Campus Life: The Pros and Cons of Pet Ownership In Post-Secondary
Whether you have grown up with pets at home, or have simply always wanted to own a pet of your own, it can be tempting to get one as soon as you’re away at college and living on your own. However, while there are many benefits to owning pets, students have a lot to consider before making the decision to bring home a fishy, feathered, or furry friend.
Pets Help Reduce Stress and Loneliness
Being away from home for the first time, being loaded down with classes and homework, and possibly needing to work part time are some of the challenges students face in college and university. There is a lot of evidence that pet ownership can improve mental health, and help reduce feelings of stress and loneliness — all of which are issues that can affect students. Pets provide companionship, and can give students something that loves them unconditionally, or something that they can talk to and complain about problems.
Some Pets Encourage Regular Exercise
Mostly applicable to dogs, pet ownership can encourage students to get outside and enjoy regular physical activity such as walking or running with their dog, or engaging in other physical pursuits such as ball or frisbee tossing. Since dogs need to be walked several times a day, this makes sure that you get outside and move around at least a few times a day, too. Spending time walking a dog is also a great way to discover your neighbourhood and enjoy your local parks, trails, and other outdoor venues.
Pets Can Be a Social Icebreaker or Help You Make Friends
Pets of any kind, whether an active cat or dog, or a quiet hamster or turtle, can help you make friends and socialize. You will meet lots of other dog owners when you’re out for a walk, which can help you make friends in the neighbourhood. Many cities also have regular pet events such as charity walks or pop-up markets, where you can meet other pet owners. Having a pet is also a great social ice breaker when meeting new people, since almost everyone likes to hear about someone’s pet!
Pets Are Expensive
This might be the biggest consideration, as many students are already on a budget in order to pay for tuition, books, food, and rent or residence fees. Any pet needs food and vet visits, and depending on the kind of pet, they will often require other items such as litter boxes, kennels or carrying cages, dishes, collars and licenses, and toys. It’s important to look at your budget and add up the potential costs for a pet, before committing to a purchase or adoption.
Pets Need A Lot of Your Time and Attention
Students in college and university are already busy, and adding a pet to the mix can be difficult. All pets need at least some of your time and attention regularly, whether it’s daily walks and playtime for cats and dogs, or weekly tank cleaning and water changes for fish or amphibians. Feeding is also a daily requirement. It’s important to consider your school and work schedule before committing to a pet, and to be willing to accommodate the right amount of pet time into your schedule. Owning a pet while in school also means you have less flexibility to be spontaneous; you can’t stay out all night, or decide to go away for the weekend, without making a plan for the care and feeding of your animal.
You Can Still Get a Pet — With Some Thought
If you’ve read the above and still want a pet, that’s great! Just be sure to give some thought to the best pet for your situation — living situation, financial situation, and schedule.
You might want a dog, but if you live in student residence or a building that doesn’t allow dogs, or can’t afford the food and vet bills, then right now a different pet might be a better choice, such as a hamster or some fish. There are lots of pets big and small, furry and feathered and fishy, that you can find the perfect pet for you.