When choosing a pet there are many factors to consider, but potential pet parents often forget to ask themselves - 'How long will this animal be counting on me to care for them?'. While some pets are only expected to live a couple of short years, others require decades of love and commitment. Are you ready for the heartbreak or responsibility? Our Vancouver vets explain.

How long do pets live?

Needless to say, this question is difficult to answer, as there are so many types of pets with different lifestyles and genetics. Beyond that of course there is also an element of luck involved in life expectancy.

That said, below we list factors that affect the life expectancy of pets, as well as various popular animal companions and how long you should expect each to be with you.

Factors That Can Affect a Pet's Life Expectancy

Whether your pet is a goldfish, cat, dog, or parrot, all pets require a few key essentials to help keep them healthy and happy. 

  • Genetics play a strong role in how long you can expect your pet to live. Whether you are deciding on a bird, dog, or reptile check our list below to see how long you should expect your pet to live.
  • Appropriate housing whether in the form of a cage, aquarium, or space to roam within your home. Every pet needs adequate space to stretch out, move freely, sleep safely, and play. Even fish need plenty of space to swim, places to hide, and scenery to enjoy.
  • Species appropriate exercise. All animals need exercise. Birds need time out of their cage to fly, dogs need to be walked and played with, cats need owners to take time to play, and rabbits need time out of their cages to hop about freely.
  • Socialization is important to many species of animals. While some fish are best kept alone, birds, cats, dogs, rodents and many other pets will rely heavily on you to spend time with them. Some species live longer when kept in pairs, this can include Guinea Pigs, ferrets, mice, and rabbits but it's important to ensure that your pets are the same sex in order to avoid winding up with more pets than you bargained for.
  • A nutritious diet is essential for a long and healthy life regardless of which species you have as a pet. Invest in good quality food for your pet, and always check with your vet to see if supplements should be included in your pet's diet. Some pets will need a mix of fresh and specially formulated commercial food, while others will do well on a diet of kibble or pellets.
  • Proper veterinary care is also a key factor in helping your pet live a long life. By bringing your pet in for regular routine exams, your vet can provide your pet with appropriate preventive care to protect your pet against diseases and parasites, and watch for any emerging health issues so that they can be treated early, before becoming serious health concerns. 

The Life Expectancy of Various Popular Pets

Understanding the anticipated life expectancy of the species you are considering adopting is incredibly important. Are you prepared for the heartbreak that comes with loving a creature that only lives for 2 or 3 years? Can you live up to the commitment of having to write your long-lived animal into your will? These are important factors to consider.

Pet Life Expectancy Chart

Research is your friend when it comes to choosing a pet, to get you started here are some popular pet species and the approximate life expectancy for each:


Anticipated Life Expectancy

Indoor Cat 12 - 18 Years
Outdoor Cat 2 - 5 Years 
Teacup, Toy & Small Dogs (Under 20 lbs as adults) 9 - 15 Years
Medium Sized Dog Breeds (20 - 60 lbs as adults) 12 - 15 Years
Large Dog Breeds (60  - 90 lbs as adults) 10 - 14 Years
Giant Breed Dogs (over 90 lbs) 8 - 12 Years
Rabbit 8 - 12 Years
Hamster 2 - 3 Years
Guinea Pig 4 - 8 Years
Mouse 1 - 3 Years
Ferret 5 - 9 Years
Lizard (Wide range of species) 3 - 20+ Years
Snake 9 - 40+ Years
Goldfish 5 - 10 Years
Beta Fish 2 - 4 Years
Koi 25 - 35 Years
Budgie 5 - 8 Years
Cockatiel 16 - 25 Years
African Grey Parrot 60 - 80 Years
Horse or Pony 25 - 33 Years
Turtle or Tortoise 40 - 150 Years

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pet

Once you have chosen a species that you feel has a life expectancy you can commit to, there are a few other factors to take into consideration:

  • Do you have children? Does the species you would like to have as a pet cope well with kids?
  • Do you have enough time to commit to the care required for the species you have chosen?
  • Do you travel often? Will you need to ask others to care for your pet frequently?
  • Do you have enough space to properly house the species you would like to keep as a pet?
  • Will you be able to afford the care, feeding and veterinary care required to keep your pet healthy?

Bringing home a pet is a big responsibility. The decision should never be taken lightly, but with a little research you are bound to find a creature that will be the ideal pet for you.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have a new pet? Our vets at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital can help you to give your pet their best shot at a long and healthy life. Contact us today to schedule an examination for your dog or cat.