Where You Live Matters—To Your Pets

The state in which cats (and dogs) live affects their longevity. (AP)

For cats and dogs, health is all about location, location, location.

It's great to be a dog or cat in Montana — the state boasts the longest lifespan for cats at 14.3 years and for dogs at 12.4 years. Cats and dogs are fattest in Minnesota. Dogs in the South get more heartworms and fleas than dogs in other parts of the country. Cats in the Northeast are more likely to contend with ticks.

These stats, along with popularity of breeds and names (the top ones are Bella for dogs, Kitty for cats), were detailed in a new 2012 annual interactive report from Banfield Pet Hospital, the world's largest veterinary hospital chain. The report analyzed medical records from 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats treated at Banfield's 800-plus clinics in 43 states.

The review found that spaying and neutering tended to extend the lives of cats and dogs. Unneutered dogs and cats were more likely to be hit by a car or bitten by another animal than neutered pets.

In Louisiana and Mississippi, one in five cats are not spayed or neutered. Cats there have a lower-than-average lifespan, about 11 years compared with the national average of 12.1 years. In Colorado and Montana, where cats generally live 14.3 years and 13.2 years, respectively, only about one in 12 cats is not spayed or neutered.

It's good to be a dog in the West. The states with the longest lifespan for dogs are Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and South Dakota. Canines in all five states outpaced the average lifespan of 11 years. Montana had the longest at 12.4 years.

The opposite side of the country is another story. Dogs in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Delaware and Massachusetts had the shortest lifespan at about 10 years.

No matter what part of the country you live in, said Sandi Lefebvre, veterinary research associate at Banfield, preventative care is the key to extending your pet's life. The lifespans of pets have increased by one year in cats and half a year in dogs over the last decade.

“Remember — because pets have shorter lifespans than humans, they also age much faster. So visiting the veterinarian twice a year is similar to people visiting their doctors every 2 to 3 years or so,” said Lefebvre in an email to Stateline. “Ensuring pets get checkups on a semi-annual basis will provide them with a voice you might be missing when they're trying to tell you (or, in the case of cats, trying not to tell you) they're sick.”

Graphics: Courtesy, Banfield Pet Hospital
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