The fact that—hopefully—you’re reading this before you take on the responsibility of a pet is a good sign that you'll be a responsible pet owner. But is now the right time in your life? Caring for an animal involves much more than providing a home, food, and water.
Most importantly, it involves making time to train, play with, and care for your pet. But pet ownership also involves a lot of money. The ASPCA estimates that the first year you own a medium sized dog you will spend $1,580, and $1,035 on a cat! So, before you bring a pet into your apartment or house, estimate your expenses on the Pet Expenses Worksheet and decide if those fit in your budget.
After costs, consider your living space. Does it provide a safe place for a pet? If you're thinking of a dog, is there a fence and shelter if the dog will be outside? If you have roommates, do they want a pet, too? Is anyone allergic to animals? Does the landlord allow pets in their rental properties, or are you allowed to have pets in your residence hall?
Finally, think long term. Dogs can live from 10 to 15 years and cats live even longer. Will there be a place in your life to care for an animal that long?
For more information on the costs of pet ownership, visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.