There's no U.S. Centers for Disease Control for pets. Until recently, veterinarians greatly practiced in a medical bubble, only knowing what they were seeing in their own clinics. With a database of more than 800 hospitals in 43 states, Banfield the Pet Hospital, is trying to change that. The company has been keeping tabs for several years on medical conditions and other information about pets, according to the 2013 Banfield State of Pet Health Report.
One issue Banfield researched in their survey of pets, conducted in 2012, is longevity: "We've known all along that cats live longer than dogs, and small dogs live longer than larger dogs," says Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, medical director at Banfield, based in Portland, OR. "However, we never knew about how geography might impact longevity."
Overall, our dogs are living longer. The average lifespan in 2012 was 11 years, up about four percent since 2002. Cats are also living longer, for an average of 12 years, that's up 10 percent since 2002.
The five U.S. states where cats have the longest life expectancy:
- Rhode Island
The five states where dogs enjoy the longest lives:
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
Interestingly, only Montana and Colorado appear on both those lists.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are the top five states with the longest life expectancies for people 1999 to 2001):
- North Dakota
Banfield reports that these are the five states where cats have the shortest life spans:Delaware
Here are the five states where dogs have the shortest life expectancies:
Apparently, Delaware, Louisiana and Mississippi aren't states where pets thrive, at least to their full potential.
According to U.S. Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control data, these are the five states with the shortest life spans for people (1999-2001):
- South Carolina
While surprisingly, no states correlate where people and pets enjoy the longest life spans, Louisiana and Mississippi are on the list for cats, dogs and people with the shortest life expectancies.
So should people escape some states with their pets and move to others where their animals may live longer? "No, I hope not," says Klausner. "We don't know the significance of the data. We do know there are some steps individual pet owners can make to increase life spans. As more people spay/neuter their pets, their life spans increase. No doubt, keeping more cats indoors also plays a role. And certainly seeing veterinarians twice a year is likely to increase life span."
As veterinary visits decline, as they have been in recent years, Klausner is concerned that this trend of pets living longer could potentially be reversed. Or perhaps pets would even be living longer than they currently do if more of them received twice-annual preventive care exams.
According to the Banfield report, the most common diagnoses for dogs were:
- Dental tartar
- Otitis externa (ear infection)
- Dermatitits (skin infection)
In cats, the most common diagnoses included:
- Dental calculus
- Otitis externa (ear infection)
Overweight pets are an epidemic. According to the Banfield report, in the past five years, the prevalence of significant excess body weight has increased 37 percent in dogs, and 90 percent in cats. This doesn't come without consequences, contributing greatly to the 38 percent rise in arthritis in dogs and 67 increase in cats over the past five years. Diabetes in cats and dogs has about doubled over the past five years.
"Weight gain, especially in cats, happens gradually and may be difficult for owners to know has happened," adds Klausner. "Simply weighing the pet twice a year is important."
The Banfield survey also tallied the most common pet names. For cats, they are:
The most popular names for dogs include:
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services
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