To own a pet or not while in nursing school...

Nursing Students General Students



I was just recently accepted to an accelerated BSN program for January 2011. I'm moving about 5.5 hours away from my immediate and extended family, which is heartbreaking because we're all so close, but I am more than excited for my life to start AND to be on my own. I should be making a deal with a landlord, sometime in the next few weeks, on an apartment that allows dogs and cats. I was thinking that I would adopt a small to medium sized older dog from a shelter that has been housebroken and up to date on his/her shots. I know that I will have long hours during the day, (so I'd have to make sure I come home during lunch or put the dog in daycare), but I'd like a companion to have around. Are there nursing students or current nurses who have or have had a dog while in nursing school? How did it work out for you?

Thank you!

Specializes in ER, ICU.

God don't do it! You will be away too much. I have a tarantula, they can go two weeks without water, perfect!

As tempting as it may be, DON'T DO IT!!!! Nursing school is going to be very demanding and dogs require a lot of time & work (even if they are house trained). You are going to spend most of your time in class, clinic & studying. It would be unfair to the dog to be left alone during all that time. It's like having a kid except you are legally able to crate them when you leave without getting in trouble. :lol2:

You will also need to think of the added expense of dog food, tick & flea medication, and heartworm medication. And that's just if the dog is healthy. My dog is a rescue and we later discovered she had pancreatic issues and food allergies. Long story short, you do not need the added responsibility of a dog, trust me! Wait until you finish school.

If you already had a pet, I would not say that you should get rid of it to attend nursing school, but I would definitely not recommend getting a new pet in that circumstance. School is going to take up a lot more of your time than you can imagine before you're actually in it. As others have noted, it's hardly fair to the dog and the dog will also generate a lot more expenses than you expect during a time you will be looking to cut every corner ($$$-wise) that you can.

If you really must, I would suggest getting a cat rather than a dog -- they are much more self-sufficient.

Specializes in ED.

I totally agree with Elk. I have an 11 year old dog and I know I am not giving her the time I usually am able to give her and I'm not in an accelerated program.

I don't think it would be fair to an animal to be left alone that much. Even if you are home, you won't have time to devote to it like it needs.

I was a responsible breeder for a few years and I have also adopted my share of dogs from various shelters. If you were to apply to get a pet from me, I would definitely decline your application based on the amount of time that you wouldn't be home to care for the pet. I really hope that doesn't sound harsh - that is not my intent.

Let's say you do have a dog and you are gone 8 hours a day and are then spending another 4 hours a day studying and getting ready for classes. That really doesn't leave much time for a dog so the dog pees and poops in the house because you can't take him out much or because he does that for attention or to assert his dominance. As owners, we get resentful of that and we aren't as loving to the pet and we tend to express our frustrations on our pets with our words and sometimes actions.

There is just so much more involved than just owning a pet that I just don't think an accelerated nursing student can handle on her own, especially in an apartment.

Get a fish or hamster and good luck with school!


Specializes in Neuroscience.

I'm not a nursing student yet, but I've had both dogs and cats, and if you're going to get a pet, get a cat, perhaps two so they can have company. You can leave a cat alone all day with food, water, and a litter box, and they'll be all right. Dogs tend to suffer from separation anxiety issues when owners are away too long and of course they need to be taken out or they will go in the house. Plus they also need to be walked which takes up more time, daily/weekly. So yeah, dogs are like small children, whereas cats are more independent but just as loving. Go cats!

Specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab.

Nothing is better than a study break in the backyard playing fetch with your dog. Or going on a run with them. They are great pets, but like they have said, I would avoid against getting a new dog. The only reason I got one is that my gf is home when Im not to take care of the dog.

And dont get cats. Cats are the spawn of satan.

Specializes in ortho, hospice volunteer, psych,.

get a pair of cats because they'll keep each other company while you're away. i had 2 cats while i was a student and they were great company for me when i was home and kept each other amused when i wasn't.

get a pair of cats (middle-aged or older kitties are good) from a shelter and they'll already be spayed or neutered and up-to-date on their shots. kittens are precious and adorable, but need constant attention, which you won't be able to provide right now. cats are happy never going outside, except in a carrier for vet visits.

dogs also make wonderful furkids too, but to quote our vet, "puppies, dogs, and kittens need love, attention, current immunizations, good food, fresh water, lots of love, and fulltime social directors."

you just don't have that much time right now and good social directors for dogs and kittens are hard

to find!

check out the pets section on allnurses central. any of us there are just waiting to give you more advice than you ever thought you wanted or needed about your fur or fin or scaly kid.

mama to a spoiled doggie


10 equally spoiled rescued kitty kids

Thank you, everyone for your responses! I truly appreciate it!

Specializes in MICU - CCRN, IR, Vascular Surgery.

If you're going to get a pet big enough to live outside of a cage (instead of a hamster/guinea pig/fish/ferret etc) cats are the best! Even though mine like to try to sit on my books when I'm studying and stuff, I couldn't imagine my life without them :)

Trust me, I understand your situation!!! I'm a HUGE dog person and I moved 2,500 miles away from home. I left my golden retriever with my Mom because I knew I wasn't going to have enough time for her and it wouldn't be fair to her. It was THE HARDEST THING I've ever had to do.

So, I moved far away and realized that I've lived with an animal since the day I was born and I just cannot live without one. I knew I couldn't have a dog, so I decided to volunteer at a ladies house who rescued cats. I worked there for a couple months and fell completely in love with a 1 1/2 year old cat that I was going to "take in" while they were looking for a permanent. To make a longer story short... I ended up keeping him and it's worked out perfectly. He's so sweet, he was already potty trained and he loves the smaller feel of the apartment. He keeps me company while I do my homework and study... while not being overly needy or bothersome. :) He's a great little cat and he even plays fetch!! :)

I'd absolutely go with a cat, but stick with adopting a cat over a 1 1/2 so it doesn't need to be watched constantly. I also agree that you might want to look into getting 2. Mine doesn't like other cats too much anymore (after living with old, mean ones), so that's not an option for me.

GOOD LUCK! Enjoy nursing school and being on your own!! :)

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics.
And dont get cats. Cats are the spawn of satan.


In all seriousness, two cats from a shelter (and make sure they get along) would be ideal. They are much more independent--or the spawns of satan--depending on your POV. ;)

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