The United States is a nation of animal lovers, with nearly 7 out of 10 local households owning a pet. You might want a furry, feathered, or scaly friend dearly, but are your college years the right time to become a pet owner? Consider the pros and cons carefully before jumping in.
Pro: Pets Are Good for Your Emotional Well-Being
Your college years can be a challenging time. Most students are away from their regular support systems and out of their comfort zone. Busy schedules and academic demands and expectations can take a toll on your mental health. During all this turbulence, a pet can be a valuable touchstone. Many pets, like dogs, cats, and birds, give back plenty of love. Studies show just looking into your dog’s eyes boosts your body’s levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
Even less-expressive pets like mice and fish can help you feel less alone. When you feel attached to an animal your breathing slows, your blood pressure reduces, and your anxiety level falls. These are all great benefits for stressed-out college students.
Con: Pets Can Be Expensive
Pets can put a serious dent in your college finances. Buying or adopting a pet costs money upfront, and then there are ongoing costs like food, vaccinations, and vet bills to consider. According to the ASPCA, most people spend more than $1000 in their first year of pet ownership. Some pets, like fish, are relatively inexpensive, but other pets, like purebred puppies, can cost much more. If you’re already living on a shoestring, a pet could really break your budget.
Pro: Pets Teach Responsibility
Your college years are usually a period of transition from dependent high school student to more independent, responsible young adult. Pets teach responsibility because you should factor their needs into your decision-making. You must feed and supply them with water regularly and give them the attention, exercise, toilet breaks, and vet visits they need. It can be hard, but it’ll make you a better adult.
Cons: Pets and Student Accommodation Often Don’t Mix
Pets can be a barrier to finding and maintaining suitable accommodations. Many campuses ban pets of any description from their dorms. Some only allow selected pets like fish, which may not be what you have in mind. Even if you’re living off campus, you might find landlords unwilling to rent to you and pet. Make sure you know the rules about pets because if you violate them, you and Fido could find yourselves on the street.
If you find accommodation, the hard work isn’t necessarily over. Some pets can be destructive, especially if they’re left alone for hours while you’re studying or socializing. Soiled carpets, chewed windowsills, and scratched doors are all your responsibility. Are you ready to take that on?
Only you will know whether you’re ready to have a pet in college. There are some tremendous benefits to pet ownership, but some serious drawbacks, too. Consider your lifestyle and the needs of your dream pet carefully before deciding whether to get one now or to wait until after graduation.