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Getting a Pet Sitter for Your Fish

By: Stephen Sawicki

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A good professional pet sitter is a true find. Instead of relying on a friend to feed your fish, you can relax while you're away, knowing that your fish are in capable hands. A knowledgeable sitter should be able to spot medical problems and handle emergencies - and make your absence less stressful all the way around.
        
If you are going to be gone for less than a week, you probably won't need the services of a pet sitter. Most fish can live without feeding for up to a week.

Choosing a Sitter

For times you are away longer, how do you choose the best sitter and make sure your fish get the care they require? Here are some tips from the NAPPS and other professionals:
        
  • Make sure you're making the right choice in deciding to have a pet sitter. Be aware that overfeeding of fish is a common cause of death. If your trip away is short, it is better not to have a sitter.

  • Ask fellow pet owners or your veterinarian, groomer or pet-supply store for referrals, or look in the yellow pages. NAPPS' sitter referral line is (800)296-PETS.

  • Know your price range. Sitters charge an average of $12 per half-hour visit.

  • Ask questions. Is the pet sitter bonded? Does he or she carry commercial liability insurance? Ask for documentation. Is the sitter a member of a professional association? How long has he or she been in business? Does the sitter provide references? A service contract?

  • Ask more questions. What is the sitter's training background? How extensive is his or her knowledge of fish medical problems? Does the sitter have a backup plan if he or she is unable to make it to your house? Has the sitter ever cared for fish before?

  • Expect questions. The best pet sitters will want to know all about your fish, especially their eating habits and any necessary water changes. The sitter should also ask for important telephone numbers.

  • Have the sitter visit in advance.

  • Always leave a telephone number where you can be reached and the number of your veterinarian. Call the sitter if you plan to return early or late.

  • Make reservations – the earlier the better – and confirm a day or two before you're planning to leave.

  • Have your own contingency plan, especially during the winter in colder climates. Provide the pet sitter with the name of someone, maybe a neighbor, who can take care of your fish should bad weather or other unexpected circumstances prevent the sitter from getting there.

  • Have plenty of supplies on hand.

  • Give the pet sitter detailed but simple instructions in writing. Leave a measuring spoon, for instance, and indicate exactly how much your fish should be fed. Make sure the sitter understands how devastating overfeeding can be.

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