Banfield: Spaying, neutering correlate with longer lives

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Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health 2013 Report has revealed a correlation between spaying and neutering of pet dogs and cats and the pets’ life span.

Yorkie, Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar is one of Banfield’s oldest patients. The 18-year-old Yorkshire Terrier lives in Rapid City, S.D. (Photo by Johnny Sundby/InVision for Banfield Pet Hospital)

The report, which came out in May, draws on records of nearly 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats that were patients in 2012 at Banfield’s more than 800 hospitals in 43 states.

“The 2013 report features an exclusive look at the life span of both dogs and cats and provides additional insight into the overall health of our pet population,” said Dr. Sandi Lefebvre, veterinary research associate at Banfield. “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.”

Pets are living longer, according to the report. The mean life span of a cat in 2012 was 12 years, an increase of 10 percent since 2002. The mean life span of a dog in 2012 was 11 years, a 4 percent increase since 2002.

Neutered male cats live a mean of 62 percent longer than unneutered male cats, and spayed female cats live a mean of 39 percent longer than unspayed female cats, the report said. Neutered male dogs live a mean of 18 percent longer than unneutered male dogs, and spayed female dogs live a mean of 23 percent longer than unspayed female dogs.

Two of the five states with the shortest life span for dogs have the highest percentages of unneutered and unspayed dogs, Mississippi at 44 percent and Louisiana at 38 percent.

Dr. Lefebvre said the Banfield research team is investigating factors that might influence life span in dogs and cats. Banfield plans to share the results in early 2014.

“As a practice, Banfield is a believer that regular preventive care is essential to helping pets live happier, healthier, and longer lives,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, Banfield senior vice president and chief medical officer. “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 State of Pet Health 2013 Report is available at The website features an interactive map providing information about pet health nationally and by state.