students with a pet

Students Adopting Pets – tips, pros and cons

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During the Pandemic, many people adopted a dog or a cat. This trend was called a getting pandemic pet. Toronto Animal Service reported a 63 percent increase in shelter intakes in 2022 compared to 2021. This is largely due to a surge in pet surrenders. Common reasons included the return of workers and students to offices and schools, resulting in less available time for pet care compared to the pandemic era. Although people might have their reasons behind this surrendering rate, I believe it is crucial for college students considering adopting pets to understand what to expect. In this post, I would like to share some knowledge of being a pet owner for college students to review before adopting and committing to a pet.

What is it like to become a pet owner?

Becoming a pet owner is like being a parent.

A black cat in the shelter. Students getting pets must know the basics

You will have more limitations than living without a pet. Dogs or cats live about 10-15 years. Thus, you are responsible for considering them in your long-term life plan. Becoming a pet owner is like being a parent. Your pet will be your child who wants food, playtime, and attention from you even if you are busy with studying or work. They will wait for you until you come home to tend to them. Therefore, you might need to think about coming home early.

College students adopting pets must consider the costs

Other than basic care costs such as vaccinations or annual exams, you should be prepared for some unexpected circumstances, especially if your pet is a little troublemaker. For example, as a veterinary receptionist, I have seen many clients coming in with their pets who ate cannabis. Such incidents typically cost around $100 for the office visit and may involve additional expenses depending on necessary treatments. I would recommend making a savings account for your pet so you can have money ready for any unexpected expenses. You might also want to consider purchasing pet insurance in case there is a need for a costly surgery or treatment such as needed in treating cancer.

Traveling will be harder when you have a furry friend

If you are a travel lover, you should know that you will have more to consider if you have a pet. You might be able to bring your dog camping or hiking, but cats are a different story. Cats are animals with territorial behaviour. They become easily anxious when they leave their living space (although there are always some exceptions). It is even harder to plan to travel abroad because you would have to look for a pet sitter or pet hotel unless you want to go through all the travel documents required by the country you visit. You are also limited as to where you stay as many places are not pet-friendly.

Relocating: finding a pet friendly place 

If you live in an apartment or condo, you should consider pet-friendly residences since some places do not allow pets. This may limit your options to choose a place to live.

I am not sure if I want to become a pet owner in college, what should I do?

Before adopting, you can try to become a pet owner by helping out rescued or surrendered animals in local shelters or non-profit organizations looking for help fostering animals.

Local shelters such as the Humane Society London and Middlesex, accept volunteer dog walkers or cat socializers. 

Fostering a pet allows you to become a temporary pet owner. You can expect to bring rescued cats or dogs to your home and live with them until they are adopted. You can find some of these opportunities from the London animal care center, SALT animal rescue, or other local fostering non-profit organizations.


Although I showed many negative aspects of becoming a pet owner, I am also a college student who has rescued two cats adopted after fostering. Pets bring a lot of joy into your life and make you a more responsible person. It is important for college students adopting pets to have knowledge about being a pet owner before proceeding so you can think about whether you are ready for them.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. There is a related PAWS post below that you might want to look at for more information.

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