Pet parent holding a beloved pocket pet

End-of-Life Planning for Pocket Pets

What You Should Know Before Your Exotic Pet Grows Old

Small exotics, also called “pocket pets,” may have small bodies, but the love and joy they bring to a pet parent’s life can be huge. Rodents like rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and other small pets like rabbits and ferrets, can be wonderful companions.

From their diet and exercise needs to habitat and enrichment, you’ve likely spent many hours researching the best way to care for your exotic pet. But have you thought ahead to what will happen when it’s time to say goodbye?

Here are a few unique end-of-life planning questions and concerns you’ll want to consider well before your pocket pet reaches their senior years.

Know the Expected Lifespan of Your Small Pet

Some exotic pets, like parrots and turtles, have such long lifespans that they can outlive their owners. Other small pets have very short natural lifespans. Rats and mice tend to live 2–3 years on average. Most small pet species fall between those extremes, with some pocket pets like rabbits and chinchillas living up to 15 years or more.

Before you get any pet, it’s important to do your research to understand the length of the commitment you’ve agreed to. Knowing your pet’s anticipated lifespan will also help you keep an eye out for signs of aging and common end-of-life diseases, so you can make the kind of senior lifestyle accommodations they need to stay comfortable.

Plan for the Most Common Vet Expenses

Old age and health issues go hand in hand. As pets age, their bodies become more vulnerable to metabolic diseases and issues like cancer as well as the general slowing-down that comes with age. With long-lived pets, you may not encounter any serious medical issues until many years into your pet’s life. Shorter-lived pets are more likely to require more intensive veterinary care within a year or two of adoption.

In general, as a pet owner you’ll want to know in advance what health issues are most common, which are most severe, and what serious conditions you should keep an eye on as your companion grows older. You’ll also want to know if there are any special processes involved in your small pet’s end-of-life care and euthanasia. This is where having a veterinarian with experience in exotics is especially valuable, and why you want one who’s recommended by people who care for the type of pet you have.

Once you have a vet you like, you can ask them about the issues you’re most likely to encounter, and how much you can expect to pay for treatment, so you can set money aside accordingly.

Make a Plan for Pet Cremation

People are sometimes surprised to know that there is no minimum size requirement for pet cremation. Even a tiny mouse or hamster can be cremated if you wish, and you have the same options for memorial items as you would for a larger pet.

Because many pocket pets are social and must be kept in groups, you may sometimes face the heartbreaking scenario of several pets growing old and reaching the end of their lives in quick succession. Losing multiple pets in a row can be one of the most heartbreaking things about pocket pets, and that grief is never easy to bear. The financial cost of cremating several pets within weeks or months can make it even tougher.

At Best Friends Pet Passings & Cremations, we offer multiple cremation packages to suit the needs of Albuquerque pet parents. Our up-front pricing makes it simple to plan ahead and set money aside, and you can reach out to us to make arrangements for your special circumstance.

We can accept prepayment up to six months in advance, and we may be able to arrange a special group cremation if you have several small pets to cremate at once. Call 505-345-5615 to discuss your specific needs, and we’ll do what we can to make saying goodbye a little simpler

Pet parent holding a beloved pocket pet