How long do pets live?

by PDSA | 25 February 2021 #Lifestyle

A new pet is a big commitment – and could be a very long one indeed! If you’re thinking of getting a pet, take a look at how long you could be caring for them.

As loving owners, of course we want our pets to live a long a life as possible. But lots of things can change in our lives, so when you're making the decision to add a new four-legged friend to the family, how long they're going to be with you might have a big impact on which pet you get.

Your new pet will be your companion for their lifetime, so make sure you consider carefully how a decade (or more!) long commitment will fit into your future plans. Its important to have a good idea of how long your potential pet could be with you, before you make the decision to bring them home.


How long will my dog, cat or rabbits live?

There's no way to know for sure how long a pet might live – it's a bit like asking 'how long is a piece of string'. We can make estimates based on studies that have been done previously, but every pet is different and these ages should only be taken as a rough guide.

Assuming that your pet leads a healthy, active life that isn’t cut short because of disease or trauma, they could live a very long time indeed:

  • Dogs: The average dog lifespan is 14 years, but there are reports of some living into their 20’s! Size-wise you’re looking at, on average:
    • Small dogs living between 7-14 years
    • Medium dogs living between 8-13 years
    • Large dogs living between 5-13 years.
  • Cats: According to studies, on average cats live to around 14 years, but that’s only an average; a healthy cat could potentially live a lot longer, with some cats making it well into their 20’s.
  • Rabbits: On average, healthy rabbits can live about 7-10 years which might surprise a lot of people! Again, that’s an average age, a domestic rabbit in America once lived to 16 years, so be prepared to have your bunnies potentially a lot longer.


What affects how long my pet lives?

One of the main things that will affect how long your pet lives is their health. The wrong diet or not enough exercise can sadly trim years off your pet’s life expectancy, which is why it’s so important to do everything you can to keep them happy and healthy. You can read more about caring for your pet in our free pet care guides.

Diseases and other illnesses can also reduce your pet’s life expectancy. Just like us, our pets can get poorly at any time. Some breeds of dog and cat will have a higher chance of getting certain life-limiting conditions (such as cancers and heart conditions), so it’s important to research thoroughly before choosing the pet for you. You can find out more on our breed pages.

Another thing that could affect how long your pet lives is simple chance. If you have an outdoor-roaming cat, for example, they could get into a road traffic accident. We’re not saying you should wrap your pet in cotton wool and never let them leave the house, but make the most of all the time you get to spend with them because you never know what may happen next.


How much will my pet cost over their lifetime?

If the potential lifespan of your pet has come as a surprise, you’ll definitely want to research into how much they could cost over their lifetime!

We have some approximate figures to get you started:

  • Dogs could cost up to £30,800 (depending on size)
  • Cats could cost up to £24,300
  • Rabbits could cost up to £15,000 (based on a pair).

You can find out more about how much your pet may cost you over their lifetime in our free guides:

Share this article on:  PDSA | 25 February 2021


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