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What Students Should Know About Bringing Pets to University

Are you thinking about bringing your beloved pet to university? Here’s what you should know to help make the experience as smooth as possible for you and your furry friend!

Sep 6, 2023
  • Student Tips
What Students Should Know About Bringing Pets to University

Positive mental impact

As it turns out, there are actually some positives associated with bringing your pet with you to university. A study conducted at Ohio State University found “students who lived with a pet were less likely to report feeling lonely or depressed. They also felt less stressed whenever homework piled up, or exams were looming.” Additionally, pets can provide companionship while students are transitioning from home to university life.

African american man working on laptop and hugging French bulldog by table with modern gadgets

Finding a pet-friendly university

Overall, there are a few universities in the United States that have earned the distinction of being the most “pet-friendly” institutions. NYU, Princeton, University of California San Diego, University of Maryland, and Brown University are amongst these. The University of Illinois arguably reins supreme for being accommodating to pets, with an entire pet-friendly living complex for students.

In the UK, students can look towards the University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Manchester University, and Kings College London for various opportunities to have their furry friends nearby, or to connect with pets during different programs.

My baby

ESAs are allowed

Universities are typically very good at providing support to students are under stress. More and more schools are becoming open to allowing emotional support animals, or ESAs, on campus. Students who feel they may qualify for an ESA will have to go through an evaluation with their mental healthcare provider, and have to provide documentation to their school. Each university will have their own process for accepting student requests for an ESA on campus, as well as what type of ESAs are allowed.

Find pet-friendly rentals

If you’re not planning to reside on campus with your pet, then you will need to seek out pet-friendly accommodations off campus. Since these types of housing situations tend to fill up quickly, it’s important to get a jump start and begin searching early. Some housing may have restrictions on breeds, size, and types of pets that are allowed, so make sure to ask a lot of questions. Additionally, you may be required to pay a pet deposit, or have to pay extra money monthly for your pet, so make sure to budget accordingly. Some landlords might be open to accomodating a well-behaved pet, so don’t be afraid to ask if the apartment you’re looking at doesn’t explicitly state it’s pet friendly.

A midsection of teenage girl with a dog sitting on a sofa indoors, working on a laptop.

Pros and cons

Like all things, there are pros and cons of having a pet while at university. On the positive side, pets are a great comfort, especially for those who struggle with transition. They are there after a long day of classes, and they usually don’t mind listening to rants about professors and coursework. They can help break the ice with other students, who may be curious about or very happy to see your pet. Additionally, dogs can help encourage you to stay active, as they need regular exercise. Finally, as mentioned, animals can also have positive effects on students’ mental health.”

On the other hand, there are some things to consider regarding bringing a pet to university. Pets can be expensive: food, vet bills, and supplies can add up and strain a student budget. Having a pet can limit your housing options, as not all schools have pet accommodation. Pets are a big commitment. You’ll need to ensure you’re planning enough time to care for your pets, which can be tricky if you want to enjoy an active student lifestyle involving sports, clubs and societies, and nightlife. You’ll have to make arrangements for someone else to look after them if you’ve got a long day ahead of you, or want to take a holiday. Finally, pets can cause damage to your living space. Therefore, you’re going to need to be prepared to pay for any costs that are associated with damage your pet may cause to the property.

Man sitting at the table of his home office working on a laptop. With a domestic tabby cat sitting on the table in front of him. Work from home concept. White blank space on the laptop's screen

Easier pet

Still want a pet, but thinking perhaps a dog or cat might be too much of a commitment? If so, there are some pets that are generally considered easier to care for that you could consider. Fish are always a great option, as they don’t make any noise and require regular, but minimal maintenance. Gerbils are often beloved, because they’re small and friendly. If you’d like to upgrade in size, consider a hamster. Finally, reptiles like lizards and snakes can also provide excellent companionship, and can be relatively low maintenance as well.

Cute syrian hamster sleeps in female arms

Young man and his gorgeous green iguana pet

Make sure you’re ready

Whether you have a pet you want to bring with you to school, or are considering adoption, there are some things to consider. Before you bring a pet home, you need to make sure you’re ready. Pets are a lifelong commitment, and will need ongoing care. You’ll need to make sure you have the financial means to care for your pet, as well as the time to devote to their emotional and physical health. For animals like dogs, this can include regular exercise and training. Cats will need enrichment, toys, and all animals will need regular vet visits.

However, if you’ve done your research and feel a pet is right for you, then enjoy the benefits of having your furry, slippery, or scaley companion with you during some of the most important years of your life. A pet can add a lot of joy to your life, and can make your time at university even more rewarding.

young man at home

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Chelsea Castonguay


Chelsea is a Student Affairs expatriate, who now works as a freelance writer and editor. She homesteads in a small town in rural Maine, USA. She enjoys hiking, fishing, cooking, reading, all things Laura Ingalls Wilder, spending time with her family, and chasing her black lab puppy, Cash.

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