States Where Pets Live Longest: Montana and Colorado

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A new study says that pets who live in certain U.S. states may outlive pets who live in other states, according to USA Today. Banfield Pet Hospital, the world's largest veterinary practice, released its 2013 State of Pet Health Report, ranking the U.S. both in terms of dog and cat populations in each state, as well as dog and cat lifespans in each state.



Interestingly, cats and dogs fared differently in different states. The fives states with the longest-lived dogs are South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, New Mexico and Colorado. Dogs lived the shortest lives in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Delaware and Massachusetts.

Cats who live longest reside in Montana, Colorado, Rhode Island, Illinois and Nebraska. Cats with the shortest life spans come from Delaware, Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi.

There are a few reasons for the variations from state to state. Dogs and cats who are fixed live longer than those who aren't, so unsurprisingly, the states with longer-lived pets have higher rates of spaying and neutering.

Spaying and neutering reduces the risk of certain cancers, but more than that, not being fixed makes dogs and cats behave in ways that may put them in early graves. They're more apt to wander off, putting them at higher risk for being hit by cars. They're also more aggressive, leading to fights with other animals.Pets in rural areas are more likely to be unspayed/unneutered, and to be allowed to roam freely.

"It's all about lifestyle," says veterinarian and epidemiologist Dr. Sandi Lefebvre. "There are different attitudes, different levels of education and they tend to cluster in certain areas of the country."

Additionally, different regions have higher rates of certain pests and diseases. In the Northeast, Lyme-disease-bearing ticks are a greater threat than in other areas of the country. In the South, heat and humidity mean more mosquitoes and heartworm.

Dr. James Darden, chief of staff at the East Houston Banfield Pet Hospital, stresses the need for preventative care. "I can't emphasize enough how important it is just to protect against common diseases like heartworm and Lyme disease," said Darden. "Early diagnosis is one of the most impactful things you can do for your pet no matter where you live."

FIND OUT YOUR STATE'S 2012 HUMANE RANKING:

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