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Banfield Documents Pet Life Spans, Common Ailments

Posted: May 8, 2013, 7:00 p.m. EDT

Dogs in Mississippi and Alabama don’t live as long as their cousins from other states, Banfield Pet Hospital reported today in its 2013 State of Pet Health Report.

The annual survey, which also looked at the most common diagnoses and other statistical trends, was based on data compiled from visits by 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats to Banfield hospitals in 2012.

Sterilized pets tended to live longer, the Banfield data revealed.

Dog and Cat
Dogs and cats age much faster than humans—one year for a human is roughly five to seven years for a dog or cat.
Neutered cats lived, on average, 62 percent longer than unneutered males, while spayed cats lived 39 percent longer than unspayed females.

For dogs, neutered males lived 18 percent longer. Spayed females enjoyed a 23 percent advantage.

"Although considerable differences in life span were highlighted in comparisons of pets by year, sex, reproductive status, breed size and state of residence, the factors underlying these differences remain to be identified,” said Sandi Lefebvre, DVM, Ph.D., veterinary research associate at Banfield Pet Hospital. "Our internal research team is following up on this report’s findings by thoroughly investigating factors that might influence life span in dogs and cats—factors such as body condition that, when effectively managed, may help keep pets with their owners longer.”

Here are other highlights from the 2013 report:

Average Life Span
• 11.0 years for dogs nationwide.
• 12.1 years for U.S. cats.
• Dogs in Mississippi and Alabama lived 10.1 and 10.2 years, respectively—the lowest of any states.
• Cats had the shortest life spans in Delaware and Ohio, at 10.7 and 10.9 years, respectively.
• Dogs lived the longest in Montana and South Dakota (12.4 years).
• Feline longevity was highest in Montana (14.3 years).

Health Trends
• Most common canine diagnoses: dental tartar, ear infections, excess weight, skin infections and flea infestations.
• Top-five feline diagnoses: dental calculus, excess weight, flea infestations, gingivitis and ear infections.
• Almost one in four dogs and cats was overweight or obese.
• Arthritis diagnoses came at an average age of 9 for dogs and 12 for cats.
• Kidney disease was almost seven times more common in cats than dogs.
• Dental disease afflicted 91 percent of dogs and 85 percent of cats over age 3.
• The prevalence of diabetes in dogs doubled over the last five years.

Where They Live
While the medical diagnoses were remarkably uniform across the United States, a few geographic anomalies jumped out:
• Southern states such as Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas recorded the highest prevalence of fleas on dogs.
• Fleas on cats were most common in Oregon, South Carolina and Florida.
• Dogs in Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Hampshire were most likely to have ticks.
• Cats in Eastern states such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Virginia were more prone to ticks.
Heartworms were most common in dogs living in the Southeast.
• Dogs and cats in Alabama and Mississippi had the most trouble with tapeworms.

The full report is available at

Banfield does not operate hospitals in Maine, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those states were not part of the report.


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Banfield Documents Pet Life Spans, Common Ailments

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Reader Comments
It's a mistake to make any statistical determinations regarding diagnoses from Banfield's practice software. I worked at multiple Banfield locations, and at each one, the quality of record keeping is sacrificed to the fact that a diagnosis MUST be entered by the doctor prior to the client being able to check out. That means that the veterinarian enters a technically inaccurate (i.e. malaise) or incomplete list of diagnoses much of the time just to keep pace with their patient quotas. It's a fact of the system, but it's not a disclosure Banfield readily shares when publishing their data.
Dr. Lisa, St. Paul, MN
Posted: 5/15/2013 10:54:17 AM
This is such a great study. It blows out of the water some recent smaller retrospective studies that focus on selected negative impacts of spaying and neutering. I hope it gets as much visibility as those other studies.
Julie, Gainesville, FL
Posted: 5/14/2013 11:51:14 AM
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