Paws, Purrs, and Papers: Getting a Pet During College

Published on October 13, 2016 by arothstein

Your schedule is insane. You are juggling more responsibilities than you ever have before in your life. But, while you are on your morning jog, you see the adorable dogs running around the local dog park. At the local pizza joint, you admire the precious puppy happily lapping up water beside his owner’s feet at a sidewalk table. No one can argue against the fact that pet ownership provides unparalleled love and companionship. However, there are several things you should consider before you take the leap and decide to become a pet owner while you are enrolled in college. 

The first thing you need to assess is the stability of your living situation. If you are currently renting an apartment and have several roommates, you may have a few too many obstacles to consider getting a pet right now. From obtaining permission from your roommates to make sure they are willing to live with a pet to ensuring that you comply with any provisions in your lease that protect your complex from pet damage, you are fighting an uphill battle. Also, you do not know where you will be living following graduation. Once you land your dream job, you may be asked to relocate to an area where there are limited housing options that are pet-friendly; those that are available may be cost prohibitive on an entry-level salary. However, if you currently own your home, and do not foresee a move in your future, you may be more prepared to bring a pet into your living space.

Next, you need to honestly assess how much time you will have to devote to your pet. While some pets do not require substantial amounts of personal attention, others demand as much attention as a child. If you are currently leaving your house before dark and returning 12 hours later, or spending most of your time at home tied to your computer, you will not be able to devote sufficient time to your pet. It is not fair to bring an animal into your home if it will be neglected. If you have family members that will be able to share in the love and care of your pet, you may be able to make it work.

Another thing you will need to consider is the cost of animal care. When most people consider the cost of a pet, they only think about the cost of food and the initial costs associated with a check-up and vaccinations. You also need to consider the cost of bi-annual check-ups, ongoing medication costs, yearly vaccine boosters, and any special costs associated with medical conditions that may arise during the life of your pet. From severe allergies, broken bones, and even cancer, pets are susceptible to the same types of medical emergencies as humans. The costs associated with seeking out treatment for your pet can be immense, especially since pet insurance is not widely available, and the policies available have laundry lists of limitations.

Pets can bring you great joy and can be a great tool for stress reduction during college, but you need to make sure you are ready for the commitment before you take on the significant responsibility of pet ownership during your college career.

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