Banfield study shows link between geographic location and length of pet lifespan

The Banfield-produced 2013 State of Pet Health Report is shedding new light on how geographic location influences how long pets live.

In addition to exploring which states are more favorable for long pet lifespans than others, Banfield delved into the reasons why the differences exist, USA TODAY reported.

Best and worst states for pet longevity

According to the study, cats tend to lead the longest lives in Montana, Colorado, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Nebraska. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Delaware, Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi appear to be detrimental to many cats' lifespans.

When it comes to dogs, South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, New Mexico, and Oregon are tops on the list of lifespan-friendly states. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Delaware, and Massachusetts claimed their spots at the bottom of the list.

Reasons for lifespan differences between regions

From the data collected, Banfield concluded that states with the longest living and healthiest pets have more pets living inside, high spay/neuter rates, and fewer regional infectious diseases, according to USA TODAY.

Southern and Northeastern states were not conducive to longer pet lifespans, the study showed. The heat and mosquitoes in Southern states mean higher heartworm rates, while the abundance of ticks in Northeastern states contributes to increased Lyme disease risk.

Spaying and neutering also play a large part in states' longevity statistics, Banfield said. According to the study, many of the states that have long-lived pets also have high spay/neuter rates compared to those at the bottom of the list.

Banfield explained that spaying and neutering helps pets avoid some health threats such as testicular cancer, pyometra, and breast cancer, but the organization also mentioned the life-prolonging behavioral benefits that result from spaying and neutering.

For example, Banfield said animals that have not been neutered or spayed are more likely to display aggressive behaviors such as roaming, fighting, and looking for mating partners. Because of the increased tendency to roam, unneutered dogs have twice the risk of being hit by a car or bitten by another animal, Banfield said. Unneutered cats are four times more likely to be hit by a car, and have three times the risk of requiring veterinary treatment for animal bites.

Overall, the study found that neutered male dogs lived 18 percent longer than their intact counterparts, while spayed female dogs live 23 percent longer than unspayed females.

Read the full report for state-by-state statistics

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