Pets in Medical School

Be prepared to face long days at school upon admission to medical school. If you are set on getting a pet consider carefully. Different species have different needs! You may have to listen to 6 lectures, plus some research, plus a club meeting or two. Sometimes you leave at 7 am and come home at 8 pm. This is not my usual schedule, but days like these happen often. Business will increase with rotations and especially when you start your residency. Planning long term is therefore critical.

I am a big fan of dogs. I’ve grown up with Boxers, Labradors, and Chows. Currently I have a 10-month-old German Shepherd who is amazing and lovely.

Unless you live at home with your parents or a significant other, I don’t recommend high-maintenance dogs. Most dogs need two 1-hour-walks daily. If you have a “rat” dog, you can train it to litter in a box inside. Therefore, I don’t consider dogs to be a good choice unless you really know what you’re getting into (or have experience) when getting a puppy.

Cats are a good choice. They are very independent and can be trained to be clean and pretty self-sustaining (given enough food and water). Cats often have a stronger personality and can be capricious. Dogs are usually the first choice for people with cuddle deficiencies. However, with the right conditioning you can schmuse your cat into becoming your lapdog and feet-warmer.

Reptiles are another good choice. Snakes only eat once a week. Bearded dragons need food once a day, but live feed can cause a problem if you’re not keen on keeping crickets in the house. Don’t expect reptiles to come and snuggle up next to you either. If you are looking for a warm body don’t look here – reptiles are ectothermic (cold-blooded), which means you will be warming them, not the other way around.

Bunnies, mice, hamsters, or other rodents are good ideas too. Their cages have to be cleaned frequently though, otherwise your roommate will feel like he/she is living in a barn.


My dog enjoying some raw meat.