The difference between living in abject poverty and pestilence and the comfort of a rich gated community can be attributed to a fortunate role of the genetic dice. That is, you’re lucky you were born into a well-to-do family as opposed to a war-torn Third World country.
The same can be said for pets.
According to a study just released by Banfield Pet Hospital, the 2013 State of Pet Health Report, our pets’ longevity and health can be directly attributed to the state in which they live.
It’s worth noting that experts also found a correlation between the states with the longest-living pets and having the highest rates of neutering and spaying. Other factors included a higher rate of indoor pets and less infectious diseases.
“It’s all about lifestyle, what your pet means to you and how you take care of them,” says veterinarian Sandi Lefebvre. “There are different attitudes, different levels of education and they tend to cluster in certain areas of the country.”
The states with the longest lived kitties include Montana, Colorado, Rhode Island, Illinois and Nebraska. The shortest cat lifespans are in Delaware, Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi.
States with the longest lifespan for dogs include South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, New Mexico and Colorado. The shortest dog lives were in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Delaware and Maryland.
Regional factors also come into play, as southern states deal with higher rates of heartworm due to heat and mosquitoes, whereas Lyme disease is more prevalent in northeastern states due to the ticks with the disease.
Researchers analyzed medical data from the two million dogs and nearly 430,000 cats that were treated in Banfield’s hospitals in 2011.
The good news is that overall, our pets are living longer. Cats in the U.S. are living a full year longer than they did in 2002. The increase for dogs over that same period is about six months.