Should You Bring Your Pet to College?

Woman working with dog Woman working with dog

The University of Northern Colorado made news this week, with an announcement that they would be allowing students to bring a pet to college. But this school is far from the only one allowing pets in the dorms; 38 percent of colleges allow pets, although at many of these pet-friendly schools, the policy only extends to reptiles, and not to furry friends like cats and dogs. Pondering bringing your pet to school? Keep these considerations in mind:

Does your school allow pets?

Check the rules. It’s just not worth it to go against your college’s regulations when it comes to pets — it may be that the school is using pesticides that aren’t pet-friendly, or that they’re concerned about other students with allergies. Regardless of their reasons, if you get caught breaking the rules about pets, it could be a real challenge to find your pet a temporary home if the RA demands it. Trust me on this: My suitemate junior year had a cat, and it was a tough scramble to find someone with off-campus housing willing to take care of Parker – and bringing her home wasn’t an option, since our college was hours away from our families’ homes.

How does your roommate feel about an extra furry roommate?

Do you live with other folks, either in your room, your suite, or in close quarters along the hallway? Make sure to be respectful of fellow students who may not feel as loving or invested in your pet’s health and happiness as you do.

RELATED STORY: What Causes Cat Allergies?

Will you be going on lots of trips? How’s your class schedule?

For many students, college can be a time to be spontaneous: You may find yourself spending unexpected late nights with friends, wanting to take weekend trips, and in general, having a less regimented schedule than at home. For pets, who tend to thrive with regular meals and walks, a lack of structure can be jarring. The flip-side, of course, is that a lack of structure may be jarring for you as well, and having the responsibility of caring for a pet might be welcome.

Can you afford the costs and clean-up?

You may need to pet-proof your room or suite. You definitely will need to clean up hair, vomit, accidents, and be diligent about the litter box. You may also want to have a cat-sitter or dog-walker on hand, and should be prepared to visit a vet nearby for yearly check-ups and any unexpected sickness.

RELATED STORY: What Costs to Expect at an Annual Vet Visit

If this all sounds a bit negative, don’t despair! There are plenty of reasons to bring a pet along with you to campus — for one thing, just like you’d miss your pet, your cat or dog would likely miss you. For another: Pets are a great way to meet people. And, after freshman year, when you have a greater sense of what to expect from your days, and if any friends have allergies, bringing pets to your new location may be a good option for you and your pet.

Tell us: Would you bring your pet to college? Or, would you let your child bring a pet to school? Wherever your pet will live when your kiddo is off to campus, take advantage of PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.  

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