Dog Days of Summer

Pets can add so much to the life of a child! Finding the best pet for your family is an important decision; use this list of pet options to get you started!

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I'm over at Pam Barnhill's site again today, sharing my Perks of Pets for Preschoolers post that explains all the wonderful benefits pets can provide for your youngsters.

Click on over to read all about them, then come back here and check out my list of pets to consider for your family.

So what do you think? Are pets worth all the trouble? 

Finding a place to stick our 76-pound pup during our massive summer road trips makes it sometimes feel like having her is more trouble than she's worth, but that's really just a small price to pay for all that love:

But maybe you're not quite ready to commit to a Clifford-the-Big-Red-Dog type of pet yourself and curious about what other options are out there.

And depending on where you live, the list of acceptable pets might not include all of these animals -- or your family might have extreme allergies, or space issues, or fear issues, or something else.

So just think of this as a list of critters to consider. Do your research and keep in mind your family's habits, space and temperament, then go get that perfect pet!

  • Dogs - Big or small, furry or bald, expensive or free, there are a zillion different types of dogs out there to consider. Dogs are a big commitment, but can provide some of the biggest payoffs.

  • Cats - Cats can be cuddly or aloof, and whichever personality you wind up with brings along its own benefits and drawbacks!

  • Fish - Fish are an easy, entry-level pet for many families. One suggestion: don't go with a goldfish at first. They need lots of room in cold, very clean, well oxygenated water...which explains why I couldn't manage to keep Barney, Fred, Wilma or Betty alive during my childhood!

  • Turtles and Tortoises - Want a pet your child can love for years and years and years? Get a tortoise! Keep in mind the possible exposure to salmonella with these, though...

  • Snakes - Eeek! Really? But as long as you're not going with some sort of banned boa-constrictor or something, these creatures can often make excellent pets.

  • Other Reptiles - Bearded dragons, anoles, geckos and iguanas might need careful handling, but can be more interesting than you'd think. A gal I grew up with has several pet iguanas and I'm constantly cracking up at how much these creatures seem more like cats than lizards as pets when I see her photos on Facebook!

  • Birds - This one actually freaks me out way more than snakes -- I just can't handle a loose bird flying around inside a room, especially knowing that it could poop on my head any second. But birds can be very entertaining!

  • Rodents - These include hamsters, ferrets, chinchillas (which can live 12-15 years!), mice, guinea pigs, gerbils and rats. Surprisingly, rats and guinea pigs actually both make really good pets for young children. (Just stay away from any rat named Scabbers!)

  • Hermit Crabs  - Pair one of these creatures with this classic book and you're all set!

  • Sea Monkeys - These little crustaceans are practically foolproof -- and can live for a year! Grab this inexpensive kit to get things going!

  • Rabbits - We've heard all about how much our 4-H friends love their pet rabbits. Some sound more like dogs or cats, the way they're litter-trained and like to snuggle up with their owners on the couch at night!

  • Hedgehogs - This is one that's often banned in some states, but I had a friend who had one and I couldn't get over how fun and entertaining such a spiny, funny-looking critter could be!

  • Chickens - Another one that I'd never expect to have such personality, but the stories we hear from our 4-H friends keep up in stitches! Plus, the bonus with these guys is all the eggs you'll get!

Whatever your family's needs are, there is most likely a pet from this list that could work for you (I mean, who can't handle some Sea Monkeys, right?). Just make sure to carefully consider all the options to ensure the right fit.

Do you have pets already, or are you still considering whether they're worth it? I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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