Dogs and cats make wonderful companions, but most college students do not see the big picture when acquiring a new best friend. Any animal requires a lot of attention, time, and money to be properly cared for, and many students fall short on those three things. Here are five reasons for having a pet in college probably isn't a great idea.
Your probable inability to visit a vet.
If you cannot get yourself to a doctor, you probably cannot afford to get your pet to a vet. Animals need wellness exams just as humans do, not to mention be up to date on all vaccinations. An exam in addition to vaccinations can be well into hundreds of dollars. Then what happens if you need to get a more pressing service like getting a cat or dog spayed or neutered? What if your pet becomes sick or is found to have an illness? These are not only costly procedures but very stressful for you, as an owner, to deal with. Juggling class, work, and a sick dog are not ideal for anyone.
There are limits to pet-friendly housing.
In some instances, student housing will allow you to have a pet if you have all the proper documentation or if you pay an additional fee. In most cases, many student housing options do not allow pets or you may have roommates that cannot have pets. Many people have serious allergies to pet dander and therefore cannot live in the same area as cats and dogs. Therefore, not only will the search for housing be more difficult and possibly riddled with extra fees, but the search for roommates could become increasingly difficult as well.
Pets need your time.
Generally speaking, dogs and cats are the most popular pets for a student to have. While cats are more independent, dogs generally are not and they greatly need your attention. Dogs need multiple decent walks a day, not only for exercise but to also do their business! Cats have the luxury of a litter box, but dogs obviously do not. They must rely on your schedule and trust that you will be home in time to take them. If you are anything like me, your schedule can change at a moment's notice. A study session at Strozier can drag past 8 p.m. or a late night out can bring you back home around 3 a.m. A pet needs consistency, especially when they are being fed, and consistency cannot be maintained if your schedule is constantly changing.
The question of school breaks.
Say Christmas break is coming up and you and your roommates are looking forward to going home for the holidays. You would naturally take your dog with you, but your family members are allergic to the dog. How will you remedy this situation? Tallahassee virtually becomes a ghost town when everyone goes home for the holidays, so could you still get a pet sitter? A pet sitter is an option, but what about the price? You are a student after all! If you cannot afford a pet sitter, would you consider staying in Tallahassee with your pet instead of enjoying the holidays with your family? Pets, while they are fantastic, need care year-round, regardless of what travel plans you might have. Your ability to be spontaneous will cease because you need to be home every day by five to feed the dog!
A pet is a commitment, much like a baby.
Don't get me wrong, I miss my dog and cat every day that I am away from them in Tallahassee. I also know that I am home at a different hour every day, cannot even afford kibble, and do not have the availability to walk a dog three to four times a day. A pet is a big commitment not unlike a baby because both rely on you for all of its care and needs. I don't know about you, but that would be a lot of pressure on someone who is still trying to care for themselves. I do not think no student should have a pet, I just think you need to already have a level of established responsibility and financial stability to properly care for a pet. Although pets are wonderful, your time in college already brings many stresses of its own which can be heightened with a teething puppy in the house or a cat that won't stop scratching up your roommate's couch. Before you adopt a pet as a student, be sure to consider if you can give this animal the most loving, attentive life it can have.