Surviving College with Pets

College introduces enough financial struggles of its own. With the cost of schooling, food, transportation and housing, who can find enough financial relief to afford a pet? Although pets may cost a lot short-term, they are actually helpful for your mental health.

Pets don’t only bring companionship to fight off the struggles of loneliness, they can elevate your serotonin and dopamine levels which calm your body to help you relax. Pets also reduce anxiety, which can help prevent depression in the future. This is one among many reasons why people decide to get pets.

Fellow college student Jenny recently bought herself a Mini Australian Shepherd named Nala. Although the increase in dog adoptions skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not a deciding factor for Jenny. “We wanted a dog … We felt like there is never a perfect time for anything so if [we] found the perfect dog, we would just get that dog and that happened to be Nala.”

Another student named Deanna Nall received her Miniature Schnauzer, Otto, from her parents prior to COVID-19. “I had a dog growing up and once I lived on my own I missed having a dog in my own home,” Nall wrote.

Apart from the many reasons determining why students decide to get pets, there is a financial piece involved.

“I would say financials were more stressful at that time for sure. Unexpected vet bills are definitely hard to juggle with the cost of school. I just had to plan ahead as best I could or work extra shifts to make up the cost difference to afford both. I never have wished that I didn’t have my dog but I do wish that there were better pet care payment plans or options,” Nall explained. 

Jenny agreed, saying: “It’s been tight [financially] but not bad. Puppies have a lot of expenses … You have to get them fixed and [get] all of their shots and things, so they’re expensive the first few months, but after that, they’re not bad. You just have to plan well.”

Like any living thing, it requires patience and effort to care for a pet. Apart from added costs, you need a plan for taking care of the pet while you are at work. Making sure your landlord allows pets is another factor to consider since apartments often charge pet deposits and pet fees. You must do extensive research for pets to understand how to care for them, how to feed them, what medical procedures are required for them and more. This all comes down to how prepared you are to take care of a pet.

Most people own dogs and cats. However, smaller pets such as fish, rabbits, reptiles and birds are easier (in some instances) to care for. Landlords are often more receptive to smaller pets and smaller pets oftentimes cost less. Although you can’t snuggle fish, the added mental benefits still apply to small creatures. If you are worried about any aspect of getting a larger pet such as a dog, perhaps going for a smaller pet is safer.

Living in college with pets has many added benefits such as stress relief and companionship, since college can be a stressful and lonely time. However, financial and mental preparation is very important when it comes to taking in a pet. You need to think ahead and make sure that you can support both yourself and your pet through the unexpected, such as medical bills and/or emergencies.