Opinion | Pets in college are beneficial

kevin+gao+The+Daily+Illini%0AA+student+stands+with+a+dog+on+a+leash+on+the+Main+Quad+on+April+3.+Columnist+Marykate+argues+that+owning+a+pet+in+college+can+help+students+practice+healthy+habits%2C+such+as+establishing+a+routine.

Kevin Gao

kevin gao The Daily Illini A student stands with a dog on a leash on the Main Quad on April 3. Columnist Marykate argues that owning a pet in college can help students practice healthy habits, such as establishing a routine.

By Marykate Green, Columnist

While some people may think having a pet in college can be too stressful or time consuming, there are actually many benefits. One of these benefits is helping you to establish a routine.

With any pet, you have to make time to feed, bathe and play with them. With certain kinds of pets, like dogs, you have to take them out and walk them at scheduled times during the day.

Once I brought my dog to college, I found that having to take him out in the morning prevents me from staying in bed too long. Plus, because I know he’s going to have to go to the bathroom in the morning, it stops me from staying up too late.

Having my dog with me also gives me a reason to get dressed every day because I have to take him outside and don’t necessarily want my neighbors seeing me in my pajamas at two in the afternoon. There is also the added benefit of being less homesick when your pet is with you.

For dogs specifically, “mutual gazing between humans and their dogs increases the owners’ oxytocin levels. This helps decrease anxiety and arousal levels, and slow the heart rate. The positive interaction between humans and dogs via mutual gazing may reduce stress activity for each other.”

Just being around a dog can help lower your stress levels and make you feel less anxious. Having any pet with you at college can make you feel less lonely, and having a pet depend on you gives you a sense of responsibility and accomplishment that is incomparable.

If you bring an established family pet from home, it can give you the sense of connection to home that being away at school takes away from you. I’ve had my dog since I was eight years old and my freshman year was the longest amount of time I was ever away from him.

Being able to bring him to live with me my sophomore and junior years has brought a comfort and familiarity I didn’t know I was missing. One unexpected avantage of having a pet at college is they help you make friends. When you tell people you have a pet with you at school, they’re much more likely to ask you to hang out so they can see your pet. Many people miss their own pets from home, so being able to have contact with your pet can give them a little bit of comfort and maybe even a boost of serotonin. 

Having certain pets at college, such as a dog or cat, will give you a sense of security. My dog starts growling when he hears people walking past my door and talking too loud, which immediately alerts me when people may be near my home.

An intruder would be less likely to break into my apartment with a barking dog than a silent one with no animals. Even a cat may be able to alert their owner of a potential intruder depending on the type of cat and if the owner notices such behavior cues from their cat that something is wrong. 

Overall, pets are a good addition to any home, including the apartment of a college student. For the well being of your social life, emotional health and general safety, consider becoming a new parent to a fuzzy friend. And remember — adopt, don’t shop!

Marykate Green is a junior in Media. 

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