Opinion: Six things to consider when adopting a dog in college

By Elizabeth Biernacki, Staff Reporter

Curling up next to a big ball of fur is always something I’ve looked forward to with my dog at home, which is why I have been highly considering adopting a dog in college. However, with adopting comes a boatload of responsibility and considering all of the possibilities can be quite overwhelming.

Size really does matter: Think about the resources to take care of large, fluffy dogs.

Dogs come in large and small breeds. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the animal, the more expensive it will be.

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Not only is food more expensive each month, but so are vet bills and supplies like flea and tick preventative.

Many apartments or landlords tend to have a size limit for dogs. This can and will limit the options you have when moving off campus.

Large dogs require much more space including the space for their supplies and toys, while smaller dogs don’t need quite as much.

So many breeds: There are so many different breeds out there, how do you know which to choose from?

Things to consider would be energy level, size, shedding amount and predisposed diseases or physical ailments.

Dogs which are viewed as “dangerous” will limit places you can live, even if they are within size regulations. Some of these breeds include pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds and chow chows.

Adopt or shop: We’ve all seen those adorable purebred corgi puppies and had our hearts absolutely melt, right? If you decide to adopt or shop, think about the difference in expenses with both of the options.

In general, adopting from shelters is much cheaper than buying from a breeder. Shelters tend to have a flat adoption fee averaging between $100 and $300.

While that does seem like a lot, the fee usually includes spay or neuter, vaccinations and preventatives.

Often times breeders will be much more expensive, especially if you’re buying a dog in high demand, hypoallergenic or rare.

For example, Labrador Retrievers, some of the most popular dogs out there, can be upwards of $800 to $1200. This upfront cost doesn’t even include spay or neuter, vaccinations and preventatives.

Puppy or adult: Puppies are just so adorable. They’re little balls of fluff and goodness, until they chew up your favorite shoes.

While both puppies and adults require training, puppies require a lot of extra maintenance.

This can include frequent potty breaks every two hours, feeding up to four times a day, specialized puppy food, lots of obedience training, housebreaking and socialization.

Puppies will also not have many vaccinations, since they are too young to receive them. So any vaccines they don’t have you’ll have to pay for when the time comes, which is just another expense.

Adult dogs, especially if adopting from a shelter, will most likely be up to date with vaccinations and may even have some training such as being housebroken. While they will still need obedience training, they require far less of a schedule than a small puppy would.

So, an adult or a puppy is good, but puppies require much more time and energy. If you think you have the time to commit to raising a puppy, then go for it! Just know what you’re getting yourself into!

Travelling: Travelling becomes much more difficult with a dog. Say so long to the days of just booking a trip and leaving the next morning, because now there’s the issue of where your dog will go.

Often times your options will cost money and if you’re not willing to dish it out then your travel plans have just been canceled.

You could always take your pet with you. But if your family is like mine, they may not want the extra friend in the house. Besides, is it really fair to make your dog sit in a car or airplane for hours on end?

Dog sitters can be quite expensive depending on who you go to. If you don’t know the person, you may not trust them to look after your pet.

There’s always friends, but will they be willing to watch your pet the whole time you’re away for winter break? Chances are four weeks is pushing it and you might have to dish out some money anyway to make it worthwhile.

Then there are doggy hotels and kennels, but those are also extremely expensive and if you’re travelling during a busy time, then you might have to book a spot for your dog months in advance.

Your bank account: On average, the first year owning a dog will cost an owner around $1,300, quite a bit of money to dish out for a college student.

Recurring expenses will include food, annual medical exams, toys and treats, a dog license and more.

Don’t forget unexpected injuries or illnesses. The $1,300 price right there is only if you have absolutely no hitches along the way.

If you want a dog, not only do you have to know you can afford the annual care, but also have extra cash lying around just in case your furry friend needs a life-saving surgery.

Staff reporter Elizabeth Biernacki can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @EBiernacki_619.

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