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readytostresseat

Feasability of getting a dog during medical school?

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Hello! I'm an incoming med student at U of T and I've really wanted a dog since forever. I was wondering if anyone has had experience with taking care of a dog during med school and what your thoughts are about feasibility and impact on med school experience. I have taken care of my friend's dog for shorter periods of time so I generally understand what raising a dog entails but short term is obviously very different from taking full ownership. Thanks!

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So I have had dogs when growing up and have raised puppies with roomates for service dog organizations while I was in undergrad and having a dog is difficult specially when you start with a puppy. 

With a puppy you have to think about potty training and those sleepless nights for the first few months. To give you an idea a puppy at 2 months has to go potty about ever hour or so in the day and most won't be completley potty trained until 6 months. So think of where you are living you won't want to damage a place you are renting. In addition it takes a few weeks until a couple of months for puppies to be sleeping through the night. 

As well, puppies can have a lot of energy, depending on the bread of dog you are looking at exercising it 1-3 hours a day, so say if you have class 9-5 you will have to come home to take it out or get a dog walker.  If you have family and friends who can help this makes it easier but make sure you can rely on them. 

The next big thing to think is about cost, since you are in medical school you will prob have an LOC to use but in general I would say the cost of a dog is a few thousand per a year. 

Thing to consider for cost: 

- the puppy (anywhere from 200-2000 depending on the breed you want)

- yearly vaccines (200+/yr) 

- vet visits (150+/yr) 

- food (500+/yr)

- basic dog stuff, toys, beds, leash, collar, crate (200+) 

Extra costs 

- Heartworm and tick medication (300+) all vets will recommend this and in the toronto area you probably want it 

- insurance (600+/yr) 

- dog walker 15-20$ per walk so 

So you are prob looking at around 2000 dollars per a year min. 

Also know its hard to rent places with a pet, and you may be renting for a while in med school and residency. 

For myself I recommend if a student does not have support from others to potentially looking in to fostering since most organizations will pay for everything and if your circumstances change the dog can be cared by someone else. 

Now i guess on the plus side, i have loved having dogs in my life, they have been such a great break when studying and they are the best furry friends. Just know if you are doing this you are making a 10-15 year commitment.

Feel free to pm me if you have other questions. 

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I got a dog during med school and I know others who have dogs and/or got them during med school, so it can be done. It helps if you have a supportive partner that is capable of picking up the slack during times in which the demands on your time increase. It is NOT fair to your dog if you don't walk them daily, take them out regularly etc etc. 

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If you live alone, that may be a bit sad for your dog. You're going to be away from home a lot, and dogs are social animals. They don't enjoy spending long stretches of time alone. Some dogs get destructive when left alone (separation anxiety or they're just straight up bored), not to mention that if you're at school/work from 8am to 4pm, they're probably going to pee/poo in the house.

As Synth1 said, it's not going to be fair to your dog if you cannot attend to their needs on a regular basis. These needs are food, water, and potty breaks, but also companionship.  

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In addition to all the great points above, you should consider what you will do with the dog during clinical electives. Do you know someone who will take the dog while you travel for potentially months? Or, if you don’t, are you OK with doing all of your electives at your home school and the risks that may have on your ability to match to your specialty of choice? 

And have you thought about how it will effect your housing options? Toronto might be better, but here in Vancouver trying to find an affordable rental apartment that allows pets can be a nightmare!

I will also take the opportunity to plug cats ;) I’ve had both cats and dogs. Love dogs, but they can be exhausting. I found my cat to be a very medical-school-lifestyle friendly companion animal. If you want a dog because you enjoy all the outdoor stuff (the walks, the active play time), then a cat may not be for you. But if you’re looking more for a companion, something to consider. All the above points about finances, vet bills, food, housing, travel, etc still apply of course. But while some cats can also suffer from separation anxiety, many don’t, and it’s generally not difficult to figure that out during the adoption process (especially if you adopt from a foster). Or you could even just start by fostering, which tends to be easier to do with cats. 

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Thanks for the great points everyone! I definitely realize it can be a big challenge to meet the needs of a dog, especially if it is a puppy, and I'm leaning more towards fostering dogs (maybe older dogs that don't need as much daily exercise) before clinical years or maybe getting a cat because a lot of cat owners I've talked to say they're more med school friendly as @frenchpress said. I'm not too worried about finances but thank you for the breakdown! Ideally, I want a companion that can be independent when I'm gone for longer periods of time during the day, but also willing to interact and come with me on hikes/runs because I'm a very active individual. I also love spending time with pets and will make them a priority even when it gets busy (I've taken care of a friend's dog during exams - multiple daily walks, spending time with them during study breaks). I was thinking of maybe getting a bengal cat (hypoallergenic because of possible allergies in the family but also some what dog like) but I'm also open to considering other dog-like hypoallergenic cat breeds!

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35 minutes ago, readytostresseat said:

Thanks for the great points everyone! I definitely realize it can be a big challenge to meet the needs of a dog, especially if it is a puppy, and I'm leaning more towards fostering dogs (maybe older dogs that don't need as much daily exercise) before clinical years or maybe getting a cat because a lot of cat owners I've talked to say they're more med school friendly as @frenchpress said. I'm not too worried about finances but thank you for the breakdown! Ideally, I want a companion that can be independent when I'm gone for longer periods of time during the day, but also willing to interact and come with me on hikes/runs because I'm a very active individual. I also love spending time with pets and will make them a priority even when it gets busy (I've taken care of a friend's dog during exams - multiple daily walks, spending time with them during study breaks). I was thinking of maybe getting a bengal cat (hypoallergenic because of possible allergies in the family but also some what dog like) but I'm also open to considering other dog-like hypoallergenic cat breeds!

I have always been a dog person but I got a cat in my second semester this year for the exact reasons you've outlined. I considered a bengal but heard they're prone to tearing up the apartment while you're gone so I settled on a siamese. I absolutely love my kitty - he's talkative, he loves to cuddle, he follows me around and wants to be with me whenever I am home, he's super intelligent, loves to play with toys, and I even have a harness for him and I take him on walks! We've tried a couple runs but walks have been more successful so far haha. Most siamese look a lot different now than the traditional image you might have in your head - mine is a lynx point siamese (which just means somewhere a bunch of generations ago a tabby got into the mix so he has some stripes) if you want to google that for an idea! He'll be just under 10 lbs which is a little smaller than the average full grown male bengal I believe. I know you said you aren't concerned about finances but siamese are also much more affordable than bengals, which tend to run upwards of $1000. I would also look into maybe a bengal-siamese mix. They're super cute and might be a little more mellow in terms of separation anxiety and destruction while you're gone! 

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1 hour ago, CHG said:

I have always been a dog person but I got a cat in my second semester this year for the exact reasons you've outlined. I considered a bengal but heard they're prone to tearing up the apartment while you're gone so I settled on a siamese. I absolutely love my kitty - he's talkative, he loves to cuddle, he follows me around and wants to be with me whenever I am home, he's super intelligent, loves to play with toys, and I even have a harness for him and I take him on walks! We've tried a couple runs but walks have been more successful so far haha. Most siamese look a lot different now than the traditional image you might have in your head - mine is a lynx point siamese (which just means somewhere a bunch of generations ago a tabby got into the mix so he has some stripes) if you want to google that for an idea! He'll be just under 10 lbs which is a little smaller than the average full grown male bengal I believe. I know you said you aren't concerned about finances but siamese are also much more affordable than bengals, which tend to run upwards of $1000. I would also look into maybe a bengal-siamese mix. They're super cute and might be a little more mellow in terms of separation anxiety and destruction while you're gone! 

Oh man that sounds like my ideal cat and they also look super cute! I heard the same thing about bengals tearing everything apart if they're not properly exercised/tired out and my mom is absolutely petrified of the possibility of our furniture getting destroyed so a lynx point siamese sounds perfect. If you don't mind saying, how much did you pay for your cat and what breeder/shelter did you get him from? I'm in the GTA area.

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5 minutes ago, readytostresseat said:

Oh man that sounds like my ideal cat and they also look super cute! I heard the same thing about bengals tearing everything apart if they're not properly exercised/tired out and my mom is absolutely petrified of the possibility of our furniture getting destroyed so a lynx point siamese sounds perfect. If you don't mind saying, how much did you pay for your cat and what breeder/shelter did you get him from? I'm in the GTA area.

I paid $450 for him and actually I got him from a breeder in Vaughan that I found on kijiji! I believe she has litters for sale pretty regularly - I'll DM you her info! 

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