Things To Consider Before Getting a Pet in College

For a lot of college students, college can be a stressful four (or more) years. With the constant early mornings, strenuous exams, and trying to stay afloat amidst the many piles of homework, it can wear any person down. In order to deal with this stress, a lot of students turn to something that we all know can be a very good stress-reliever: animals.

Here in Iowa City, students have the ability to go to Petland to play with puppies and kittens all they want or have the option to hang out with therapy dogs when finals week comes around. But for many students, like me for example, this still isn't enough. They need to have a furry friend waiting at home for them the minute they get done with their long day. 

So, they get a pet!

The only problem is, a lot of 18 to 22-year-olds aren't prepared to take on the responsibility that is taking care of another living thing, whether it be a fifty-pound dog or something as small as a beta fish. 

Taking care of a pet requires time and attention, something that could make anyone's life a lot harder, especially someone who can barely juggle everything college life throws at them. If you are someone who thinks that they can tackle taking care of a pet along with taking care of all of your other responsibilities, that's great! But here are some things you should probably take into consideration before making that big decision. 

A pet can cost you hundreds of dollars.

Yes, that's right, hundreds. I personally have spent well over a thousand dollars on my two small guinea pigs in the past two years that I've had them. Even though the internet says guinea pigs are one of the most low-maintenance pets you can have, they are highly mistaken. You have to pay for their food (which includes fresh vegetables), bedding, habitat, toys and most importantly, medical bills. No animal is immune to sickness.

A pet will take up LOT of your time.

My sister recently decided that she wanted to get a puppy this past August, and while my family loves the not-so-little labradoodle puppy, Ollie, he was a bigger task to take on than my sister thought. There were months where she barely got any sleep at night due to his crying and wanting her attention. He chewed at her furniture and walls, resulting in her having to get those fixed multiple times, and he, of course, had to be potty trained. None of these things are easy tasks and probably aren't for people who have a lot going on in their day-to-day lives. 

Pets are here for the long run.

Something a lot of people don't think about is the fact that pets live quite a long time. If you get a pet, whether it be a dog, a cat, a reptile, etc., they're going to live for longer than you'll be in college (if you're going for four years). If you're taking proper care of your pet, their lifespan will most likely go into the double digits, and so you'll have to take them with you wherever you're going next once you graduate. This is a very important thing to consider so that you don't adopt an animal and have to surrender them after a couple of years. 

A pet requires the right kind of environment, that not everyone has.

Something that is very important to consider is having the proper living conditions for the kind of pet you want. Last year, I lived in a small apartment building that had barely any grass surrounding it. In my time living there, I noticed that multiple residents of my apartment building had large dogs, ones that were well over forty-pounds. This was something that strongly bothered me because the poor dogs were cooped up in a small apartment all day and had little room to run around outside. If you want a pet but don't think you have a big enough space for a large animal, maybe consider getting something smaller that works better with your environment. 

With all of this in consideration, having a pet in college is not the most convenient. It can take hard work, responsibility, time-management and a lot of love to provide the proper living conditions and lifestyle for an animal. Having a pet can be a wonderful and amazing experience, just make sure you're ready to give them an experience just the same.

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