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Owning a Pet at College: The Pros and Cons

Moving away from home is a big step up in terms of responsibility, and it can feel like an appropriate time to take on the extra responsibility of a pet, either on your own, as part of a couple, or with your fellow flatmates.

There are issues that have to be faced before you take the plunge, though, as owning a pet can be a huge amount of work and hassle not to mention a commitment that could live much longer than the duration of you degree.

Weigh up the pros and cons, and decide if owning a pet will be right for you in your situation, and don’t forget to read any campus housing or rental agreements you have before bringing home a pet of any kind!

Large Animals


Owning a large animal is also an excellent way to make sure you stay on track with your studies, as just having one around means you’ve got a big responsibility to take care of – so a three-day partying binge isn’t even possible, much less desirable.

They also offer a great way of getting out of a social event – no-one has ever used “I have to go feed my bird” as an acceptable excuse for leaving a party early, but dogs are much more understandable.


Large animals like dogs tend to need a lot of attention, and tons of exercise – which they simply cannot get sitting around an apartment or in halls.

Large animals are also more likely to make large messes. They’re a total liability when it comes to wear and tear, which could jeopardise your housing deposit.

Finally, they’re very expensive to keep fed, and at your age, blaming not turning your homework in because your dog ate it just won’t cut it.

Medium-Sized Animals


Medium-sized animals such as rabbits and cats tend to be much lower maintenance than larger animals, but also retain more independence than smaller animals can.

Medium-sized animals can be picked up and petted quite easily, and are easy to control. They cannot escape down the back of furniture or under the floorboards, and they can’t simply use their strength to run off while on a walk or in an open area.


Most medium-sized animals will increase the amount you spend on insurance just as much as a larger animal. As with any animal, you also need to think about how they will be cared for during summer and winter breaks.

Cats, small dogs and rabbits are still quite expensive to look after, when you factor in the cost of food, speciality containers like hutches and cat cages for travelling, and toys.

Small Animals


Small animals are extremely low maintenance, usually requiring little more than a small supply of dried food, some fresh water, and a place to sleep.

Small animals are often allowed in places where dogs and cats are not. It’s much easier to negotiate a hamster with your landlord than a Great Dane.

As a rule, small animals are cheap to keep fed, watered and entertained.

You have the opportunity to build an epic rodent run all around your building.


Small animals usually require a cage or tank of some kind, making them less portable and a little more expensive to set up.

Lizards and fish are unlikely to escape, but rats are very clever and can often work out how to open latches and cage doors.

They can also be sensitive to substances that are not natural animal products, coming out in allergies and rashes.

What are your thoughts? What sort of animal would you ideally like to own while at college?

About the Author: Louise Blake is a new mum but a long-time pet owner, who’s learned which pets are the most hassle through painstaking trial and error. She writes for Petmeds while juggling motherhood.

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