If you are a college student considering bringing a pet into your life, there are some important things to consider first. This article aims to help you decide if getting a pet while in college is a good choice for you.

Before adopting a pet, there are a number of important things to consider. How much can you afford to spend on a pet? Dogs and cats require annual exams and vaccines. If your pet becomes ill, veterinary care can easily run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single illness. Most rental properties charge an extra deposit and extra monthly rent for dogs and cats. If you cannot afford a lot of veterinary care, it may be best to consider a pet that doesn’t require as much care, such as a small bird or a rodent-type pet. Many people do not consider how much some pets can eat and how much quality pet food can cost. Dogs and cats require many accessories such as collars, leads, bedding, cat box and litter, scratching posts, toys, balls, treats and chews are only some of the things your dog or cat will need. Other pets have similar requirements, some of which are very expensive such as cages, heating/cooling units and glass aquarium/terrariums.

How much time do you have to spend with a pet? Dogs require a lot of time and attention. They need regular exercise and opportunities for potty outside of the house multiple times per day. Will your class schedule and social commitments permit you to spend the proper amount of time with a dog? If not, a cat or other type of small pet is a better choice.

How much space do you have? If you live in a very small apartment, it may be best to consider an animal that can be kept in a cage. Small birds, reptiles or rodents make good pets for people who live in small spaces. Fish aquariums are also a nice option.

What is your living situation? Will you be moving around a lot? If so, you will always need to find a place that allows pets. If you move back home with your parents in the summer, are they okay with you bringing a pet home?

If you have roommates, do they like pets? When considering getting a pet, it’s vital to consider all the existing members of the house. Ideally, everyone should agree on the specific pet, but at least everyone should agree on the species and breed of pet before bringing it into the house. If somebody in the household doesn’t like cats or is allergic, for example, it would be disrespectful to bring a cat into the house. Are your roommates willing to help care for your pet if need be? Ultimately, your pet is your responsibility, so if you feel that you’re not able to take on the responsibilities of pet ownership without help from others, it is probably best to wait until after graduation to get a pet.What will you be doing after graduation? Do you have definite plans about what you will be doing, or are things up in the air? Pets, especially cats and dogs, require stability.

Having a pet is a big responsibility, as well as a long-term commitment. You should never get a pet thinking that you will get rid of it later if it doesn’t fit into your life anymore. Unless you are sure that you are able to handle the responsibilities of pet ownership and can make a long-term commitment to a pet, it is probably best to wait until you graduate and are settled before getting a pet. If you feel that you are able to accept the responsibilities and make that commitment, though, a pet can be a wonderful addition to your college experience. For more information on pet ownership and college students, visit Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223091318.htm) or Missouri Western State University (http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/148.php).

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