Pet Ownership

international student with dog

Should I become a pet owner?

In the United States, pets are considered part of the family. Pet owners typically show their pets a lot of love and affection, and make their pet’s health and well-being a high priority. Pet ownership requires time, attention, and money, and may not be a good idea for busy college students who are likely to be moving across the country or world within a few years. If you are thinking about owning a pet, you should consider the following before making a decision:

  • Dogs live for 12-18 years and cats live for 15-20 years – you need to make plans for the full lifespan of your pet, which means year-round care (including university break periods)
  • Pets require regular veterinary visits, which cost time and money (and any medical issues or emergencies would cost more)
  • Pets require regular exercise, companionship, and mental stimulation – your personal schedule should allow plenty of time to be with your pet
  • All dogs require bathroom training, leash training, and varying degrees of behavioral training – this requires a commitment of time and patience

In general, pet ownership requires responsibility and personal sacrifice. If you are not prepared to make this commitment, pet ownership is not the right decision for you at this time.

Caring for a pet

If you have chosen to own a pet, you need to give your pet the proper care and attention that it needs in order to stay healthy. This means taking your pet to a veterinarian regularly for physical exams and vaccinations, giving your pet any medication it requires, and watching for any symptoms of illness, injury, or pain. If you suspect that your pet is sick or injured, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately for advice on how to treat your pet.

Caring for a pet also means giving it the appropriate type and amount of food and water, providing daily opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation, and not leaving your pet alone for too long (this can vary depending on the pet, so ask your veterinarian if you are not sure). You need to provide a clean, proper shelter for your pet, protecting it from rain, snow, and excessive heat.

Additional tips:

  • Purchase a county dog license annually for any dog over 3 months old to be worn on the dog’s collar, in addition to a tag with your name and phone number
  • Spay or neuter your pet to prevent accidental breeding, which results in unwanted puppies or kittens
  • Do not let your dog stray or run away – keep it on a leash or in a secure enclosure when outside
  • Consider microchipping your pet, which is very helpful if your pet becomes lost

Please be aware that neglecting or abusing an animal is a crime that could result in having your pet taken away from you, or cause you to be fined, arrested, or sent to jail. It could also cause you to be suspended or dismissed from Miami University.

Traveling with or without a pet

If you have a pet and are planning to travel, you need to plan in advance for the proper care of your pet.

If you are bringing your pet with you: Review the USDA website for information about traveling with a pet. If you are traveling internationally with your pet, you should schedule your airline flight and contact your veterinarian at least 3 months before you plan to travel. Some countries have additional requirements that may take several months to be processed. If you are traveling within the United States, you need to schedule your flight and contact your veterinarian 2 weeks in advance. This allows them to get appropriate appointments made, forms filled out, and international forms sent to the USDA for approval.

If you are not bringing your pet with you: You need to make plans regarding who will care for your pet while you are traveling. If you plan to leave your pet at a kennel, you need to make a reservation in advance – ideally one month in advance. Do not wait until the last minute, as there is limited space at kennels and they are very busy during holiday seasons. If you will be gone for more than a few days, we highly recommend using a professional kennel service rather than a friend.

If you plan to leave your pet with a friend, make sure it is someone who you trust to properly care for your pet while you are away. Be sure to leave detailed instructions of what the pet requires on a daily basis, as well as contact information for your veterinarian. It is never appropriate to leave your pet alone for an extended period of time without proper care. Your pet's caretaker must provide daily care.

Other ways to interact with animals