For some incoming college students, leaving home without their best friend isn’t an option. Who wants to experience the best time of their life – which can also be one of the most difficult times – without their number one companion? The health benefits of keeping a pet are well-documented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol level and triglyceride levels. Additionally, they can create opportunities for you to exercise and socialize. So when you’re suffering through a break-up, ol’ Fido can console you, help you trim the “freshman 15″ and lead you to your next lover. If you’re planning to bring your pet to campus, it’s important that you understand the responsibility that you’ll have to undertake in order to keep him or her healthy and happy. Here are 10 tips to consider when brining your pet to college.
- Check with your dorm or apartment management
A vast majority campus dorms across the country aren’t pet-friendly. So if you’ve already been assigned to one that prohibits any pet beyond that isn’t a fish, you can attempt to back out of your commitment – though it may be difficult – and move off-campus. You can avoid such a mess altogether by researching if your college has pet-friendly dorms beforehand. More universities have become more relaxed with their pet policies – MIT, for example, allows cats in four of its 11 dorms. Of course, most apartments allow pets, as long as you pay an additional fee.
- Get your roommate’s approval
Regardless of whether you’ve been paired with a random person or you’re moving in with your lifelong (human) friend, you must seek their approval before your pet enters the equation. Your new roommate may have pet allergies, disapprove of the uncleanliness, or possess an irrational fear of the animal. If they say it’s a no-go, you can always find a more pet-friendly roomy.
- Budget your money
Among the many life lessons learned in college, budgeting is one of the most important. No longer is mom or dad on your side, wallet in hand, ready to cover all of your expenses without second thought. Tuition, room and board, textbooks and food will inevitably put a large dent into your bank account, and if your parents help you out, they probably won’t be receptive to your pleas for additional aid. Before making the move, sit down and make a list of the items and services that you’ll need to purchase for your pet. It should include food, vet services (like random emergencies) and grooming. Then determine if you can afford it, and if not, what measures will need to be taken in order to make it happen financially.
- Stock up on the essentials
If money isn’t a problem, stock up on the essentials before departing on your journey to campus – it won’t be the only time you’ll be transporting your pet. Purchase an appropriate-sized crate that’s both safe and comfortable. Make a trip to the vet and refill its medications. Also, supply yourself any miscellaneous items that are used day-to-day, like leashes, toys and bones.
- Budget your time
Most college students struggle to maintain a balance between class time, work time and their social lives, and very little of their days are spent at home. Just like with any healthy human relationship, your relationship with your pet, especially if it’s a dog, requires an investment in time. Set aside time each day and encourage them to exercise and socialize. Potty train them before they set foot in your dorm room or apartment so that bathroom breaks won’t be laborious tasks.
- Pet-proof your dorm or apartment
Survey your dorm or apartment to ensure your pet is safe from hazardous materials. Place medications, human food, cleaning materials and anything else that could make them sick in an unreachable area. Make sure wires and cords are out of sight to prevent chewing. Keep you toilet seat down and washer and dryer doors closed – if you’re fortunate enough to have those appliances. And cover all heating and air vents.
- Establish pet-friendly areas
Keep in mind that you are in fact sharing your new home with your pet. Mi casa es tu casa, right? So establish pet-friendly areas in your dorm room or apartment. If you have a cat, find a tiled floor – preferably away from the kitchen – to place his or her litter box. You can erect their scratch posts in an area in your living room that’s not visible, like behind the couch, or behind your bed in your dorm room. Also, find a comfy place to set up a bed for your dog when they aren’t sleeping at the foot of your bed.
- Prepare to clean consistently
Although cats clean themselves, their efforts aren’t thorough enough to meet human standards. To compensate, you’ll need to consistently clean your dorm room or apartment so that it doesn’t become engulfed in fur and dander. Dogs are the most difficult to clean after, so you’ll have to focus an equal amount of time cleaning him or her as you would cleaning the spaces in which it most resides.
- Have a pet-sitter on standby
Those spontaneous college roadtrips are less doable when you have a pet for which to care full-time. Additionally, any extended time away from your home base could leave your pet lonely, depressed and hungry. Securing a consistent pet-sitter enables you to have your cake and eat it too. Your life will be richer for having the pet, but you won’t always be tied down by it. Fittingly, good friends who enjoy the company of animals make the trustiest sitters.
- Bring him/her home every once and a while
If your pet has grown up around your family, be sure to bring him or her home – when you can – so that he or she can become reacquainted with them and vice versa. After all, your pet is a member of your family, and it deserves all the love in the world.