Girl with her pet dog

How long do pets live for?

If you’ve ever kept an animal, you know you’ll have to deal with their eventual death. Whether it’s a rabbit, a guinea pig, a pooch or a parakeet, one day they won’t be around anymore. Different animals have very different lifespans, and how long your pet lasts can be a major factor in the type of animal you decide to keep. For instance, a pet turtle might seem like the ideal low-maintenance animal for a child. This is a big commitment though, because even a small turtle can live as long as 50 years. Your kid will leave home long before then, so do you want to be left looking after their pet? Here are some of the most popular pets, along with their average lifespan.

Cats – up to 15 years, if kept indoors

A house cat can live for a long time. However, there are lots of things that can cut this life short, and most of these happen to outside cats. Not only do outside cats run the risk of being hit by cars or attacked by other animals, but they can be poisoned or pick up diseases. It can be much harder to detect health problems, too, when your cat isn’t around the house as much.

Dogs – 12 or more years, but bigger dogs die sooner

A small dog might live for well over a decade. However, the larger a dog is, the shorter its expected lifespan. Medium-sized dogs such as Labradors might not reach their 10th birthday, while a giant breed such as a Great Dane is in old age after its 5th birthday.

Rabbits – over a decade if kept healthy

Although they don’t typically live very long in the wild, a well-kept indoor rabbit can survive for more than a decade as a pet. Of course, these animals must be carefully looked after, as they are susceptible to diseases such as myxomatosis which are easily transmitted from wild rabbits.

Rodents – up to 7 years, depending on size

Unlike dogs, smaller rodents tend to live shorter lives. A mouse or gerbil might live up to 3 years, a rat up to 4, and a guinea pig can be expected to survive for up to 7 years. Keep in mind that if you buy one of these larger rodents for a child, they (or someone, at least) needs to take care of it for a long time.

Choosing the right pet for your home

There’s a lot to consider when buying a pet. How long it will live is an important factor; you don’t want your beloved best friend to die after just a few years together, but equally a childhood pet that lingers on once a child’s lost interest can be problematic. This is unfair to the animal, and you should never neglect a creature that you own. Be realistic about how long you will care for a pet, and plan accordingly.