Spaying and Neutering May Contribute to Longer Lifespans

Portland, OR May 08, 2013

Research Uncovers Dog and Cat Lifespans Have Increased From 10 Years Ago, According to the Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2013 Report

PORTLAND, Ore.—May 8, 2013—Banfield Pet Hospital®, the world's largest veterinary practice, released its State of Pet Health 2013 Report, opens in new tab today, revealing that spaying and neutering dogs and cats, among other factors, may influence a pet's lifespan. The report, compiled by Banfield's internal research team, Banfield Applied Research and Knowledge (BARK), analyzed data collected in 2012 from nearly 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats cared for in Banfield's more than 800 hospitals in 43 states. The State of Pet Health 2013 Report, opens in new tab includes state-specific statistics regarding lifespan of pets, and provides a comprehensive summary of overall pet health, including common and chronic diagnoses.

According to the report, pets are living longer: the average lifespan of a cat in 2012 was 12 years, which has increased by 10 percent since 2002—adding a full year to a cat's life. The average lifespan of a dog in 2012 was 11 years, a 4 percent increase adding a half a year to a dog's average lifespan. Additional findings in the 2013 report include the impact spaying and neutering has on a pet's lifespan. Data revealed neutered male cats live, on average, 62 percent longer than unneutered males and spayed female cats live, on average, 39 percent longer than unspayed female cats. An increase in longevity was also seen in dogs. Neutered male dogs live, on average, 18 percent longer than their unneutered counterparts and spayed female dogs live, on average, 23 percent longer than unspayed females.

Due to the fact that dogs and cats age much faster than humans—one year for a human is roughly five to seven years for a dog or cat—it is especially important that pet owners understand the potential factors that may impact how long their pet lives. In addition to spaying and neutering, other contributing factors such as genetics, breed type and size, a pet's geographic location and the amount of preventive care a pet receives may have an impact on a pet's overall lifespan. The cornerstones of preventive care include vaccinations, parasite control, dental care, nutrition and behavior training, among other things.

"As a practice, Banfield is a believer that regular preventive care is essential to helping pets live happier, healthier and longer lives—a core piece of that preventive care is twice-annual examinations and early disease diagnosis," said " "Jeffrey Klausner, DVM, MS, DACVIM, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Banfield Pet Hospital. "The key to successful early disease diagnosis involves a partnership between pet owners and their veterinarian to identify changes in a pet's overall health and behavior. Together, we hope to protect pets from preventable diseases, help detect and manage chronic conditions and work to ensure that all pets are as healthy as possible for as long as possible."


The geographic location where a pet lives may also impact his or her lifespan due to preventable diseases plaguing certain parts of the United States. Preventable diseases such as heartworm disease and Lyme disease are life-threatening and may play a role in a reduced lifespan in certain areas of the country including the Northeast (Lyme disease) and the Southeast (heartworm disease). Heartworm infection is one of the top three conditions or diagnoses for pets seen in Banfield hospitals in the Southern states including Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, among others. These three Southern states had the shortest lifespan for dogs in 2012—Louisiana and Mississippi were also among the bottom states for lifespan in cats.

Similarly, two of the five states with the shortest lifespan for dogs have the highest number of unneutered male and unspayed female dogs: Mississippi at 44 percent and Louisiana at 38 percent. Similarly, nearly 20 percent (or 1 in 5) of the cats in Mississippi and Louisiana are not spayed or neutered and these are among the states with the shortest lifespan for cats.


States with the Longest Lifespan for Dogs States with the Longest Lifespan for Cats
1. South Dakota 1. Montana
2. Montana 2. Colorado
3. Oregon 3. Rhode Island
4. New Mexico 4. Illinois
5. Colorado 5. Nebraska


States with the Shortest Lifespan for Dogs States with the Shortest Lifespan for Cats
1. Mississippi 1. Delaware
2. Alabama 2. Ohio
3. Louisiana 3. Louisiana
4. Delaware 4. Kentucky
5. Massachusetts 5. Mississippi


The State of Pet Health 2013 Report, opens in new tab features the first-ever interactive map of the United States outlining pet health concerns and prevalence by state at, opens in new tab. The site offers pet owners the opportunity to view the pet population, spay/neuter rates, most popular breed types, average lifespan and prevalence on a state-by-state basis for the most common diseases and conditions affecting pets including: overweight/obesity, arthritis, kidney disease, thyroid disease, heart disease, dental disease, otitis externa (ear infection), flea and tick, intestinal parasites, heartworm infection and diabetes. 

"The 2013 report features an exclusive look at the lifespan of both dogs and cats and provides additional insight into the overall health of our pet population. Although considerable differences in lifespan 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, PhD, veterinary research associate at Banfield Pet Hospital. "In our ongoing commitment to improving the health and well-being of pets, our internal research team (BARK) is following up on this report's findings by thoroughly investigating factors that might influence lifespan in dogs and cats—factors such as body condition that, when effectively managed, may help keep pets with their owners longer. We look forward to sharing the results of these studies with pet owners and the veterinary community in early 2014."For more information about Banfield Pet Hospital visit, opens in new tab. For the full State of Pet Health 2013 Report, opens in new tab, please visit

About Banfield Pet Hospital® 

Founded in Portland, Ore., in 1955, Banfield is the largest general veterinary practice in the world. In 2007, Banfield joined the Mars, Inc. family of businesses, and today it is more than 800 hospitals strong in neighborhoods across the United States. More than 2,600 veterinarians at Banfield are committed to giving pets the highest quality of veterinary care. Banfield hospitals offer a full range of comprehensive medical services, computerized medical records, preventive care plans for pets and extended operating hours. Banfield Pet Hospital helps extend the lives of millions of pets each year through Optimum Wellness Plans®. For journalists seeking more information, visit or contact the Media Hotline at 888-355-0595.

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