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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Though owning a pet in school can be fun and rewarding, it comes with many challenges that students may overlook during the decision process. I have compiled some of the pros, cons and things to consider before owning a pet as a student, which may help you realize if this choice is the right one for you.

Pets can help your mental health.

Having a pet can decrease your stress and enhance your mental health. As a student, school can be very hectic at times, so having a pet can be beneficial. Pets, no matter how big or small, are always there for you. They are companions that will be there every time you get home from class or get off a zoom call. Pets are known to help people lower their stress and anxiety, which can be extremely helpful during times like midterms and exams. I know that when I am stressed, finding my cat and hugging her, or attempting to anyway, makes me feel ten times better.

Pets can encourage exercise.

Owning any type of animal that needs to regularly go outside can help you get that fresh air you desperately need. Exercise is a great way for students to destress, and if your pet needs to go on walks, then this is a way you can fit this into your busy schedule.

Pets can help you learn responsibility.

When taking care of a pet, you are not only responsible for your own well-being, but also for the well-being of your animal. Although this may be a big step for many students, owning an animal can help you learn how to better manage your time and budget for food and necessities. 

Now, let’s look at the negatives:

Pets can be expensive.

When looking at the prices of cats and dogs, the initial payment, as well as the additional fees, can become very costly. These expenses may include keeping up with their needles at the vet, possible spaying or neutering, their food and their toys. As a student, you need to know if these, as well as any unexpected costs that may come up, are costs you will be able to keep up with.

Taking care of pets can be time consuming.

Owning a pet can also be extremely time consuming. If you decide to buy a puppy, but can never spare the time to take them out, go on walks or play outside with them, then this type of animal is not for you. Some animals may also require more training than others, which requires more work.  If you’re a student who already has a lot on your plate, you need to make sure you have the time for these commitments.

Other things to consider:

Where will you be living?

Whether you are living in student housing or with your family, you need to consider if your home is suitable for pets. If you’re living in an apartment building but want to own a dog, you must ensure that you’re taking them out throughout the day for bathroom breaks and exercise. Puppies especially will need multiple walks every day and being in an apartment building with no yard may not be the best fit. If you’re in an apartment, a cat or a smaller animal like a hamster may be better suited for you.

Are you able to commit?

Owning a pet is not a short-term responsibility, especially if you’re looking to own a cat or a dog. You must consider your future.  Is where you want to be in five years somewhere you can bring a pet? Are you thinking about doing an exchange in a different country? If you’re gone for a long period of time, do you have someone that could take care of your pet while you’re away? If you don’t think you can make a long-term commitment but still want a pet, then you should consider other animals like hamsters, guinea pigs or hedgehogs instead.

Though owning a pet can be a lot of fun and can provide some mental relief, you need to ensure you are properly prepared to take on an animal as they can be a lot more work than you think!

Alexandra DiVincenzo

Wilfrid Laurier '23

Alexandra is a third-year Psychology student with a minor in Sociology. She loves to write and in her spare time you can find her cozying up with a book or spending time with her friends and family!
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