Pets are one of the greatest joys in life. There is nothing better then curling up in the evening with your best friend on your lap. For some college students, getting a pet is at the top of their to-do list. However, getting a pet is an important decision and should be carefully considered. Once you own a pet, you are responsible for taking care of another life. College might not be the best time for such a large responsibility. If you are thinking about getting a pet, here are four important things to consider:
You will probably change housing several times during your college years. This creates a risk that some of your living arrangements may not be suitable for pets. Dorms and other campus sponsored housing such as fraternity and sorority houses typically only allow service animals. Most apartments that allow pets require additional fees to cover cleaning costs when you move out. Further, even if the place you live allows pets, your roommates may not be as open to the idea. If you think that you will be living in a place that will not work with pets at some point in your college career, then you should hold off before getting your new furry friend.
Pets are expensive. There’s really no way around that fact. Living on a college student budget with a pet can be extremely difficult. You need to make sure you have the financial means to care for a pet before you bring one home. The AKC estimates the average cost of owing a dog the first year is $3,085. That’s a steep price to pay on a tight income. Some common pet expenses are:
- Food and water
- Flea and tick medication
- Collars and leashes
This is by no means a complete list of necessary animal supplies, but you will need to provide all of these essentials for your pet. In addition, remember to budget additional funds for unplanned emergencies. It’s not hard to rack up a vet bill totaling several hundreds of dollars, or worse, even thousands.
College is extremely time consuming. Attending classes full-time, participating in clubs, and working can leave you with little time to take care of your pet. Before you get a pet, you need to ensure you have the time to set aside for playing with, walking, and caring for your new family member. Animals need plenty of love and attention to be happy. When they are receiving enough exercise or attention, they’ll often channel their displeasure through negative actions. This could mean coming home to chewed up household items or other displays of anxious behavior.
Moving across the country or taking a gap-year in Europe sounds like a wonderful plan, but it’s difficult to take any animal on such journeys. If your after-college plans include traveling or other large lifestyle changes, you may want to wait until you are settled before buying a pet. Once you’ve established a clear plan and are confident you’ll follow it, properly caring for an animal becomes a more realistic possibility.
When you adopt an animal, you are committing to care for it as a family member for the rest of its life. If you have any concern over your ability to keep and care for an animal, potentially over the course of 10+ years, then you should wait before getting a pet. I know many people who have successfully kept pets as college students, but I also know those who had to give-up their loved one. Make sure you’re fully prepared for such a commitment before you head to the shelter.
Have any tips for caring for an animal in college? Leave them in the comment section below!