July 19, 2020

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Dogs and Cats are Living Longer – and so are Pet Owners

Pets are living longer!

Studies show that the average life expectancy of dogs increased from 10.5 years to 11.8 years between 2002 and 2016. Dogquality.com believes this is partly due to a shift in perspective in how people think of their furry friends. In the past, animals were considered pets — now, 95% of people consider them to be family.

According to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery cats are living longer lives because they are healthier and well cared for. Cats are considered to be geriatric around 15 years old, but these days more and more cats are living into their late teens and early 20s.

So what does this mean for pet owners?

Researchers associate several health benefits with dog ownership. Dogs not only “offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood,” but also force their humans to exercise and spend more time outdoors.

Medical News Today reported that a study by the Minnesota Stroke Institute, which followed more than 4,000 cat owners over 10 years, determined that owning a cat can dramatically reduce a person’s chance of dying from heart disease. Specifically, people who owned cats were 30 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack.

Stubby the English Bulldog (age 14)

Daniel Carter, founder of Zippy Electrics, adopted Stubby while in college. English bulldogs have a lifespan of 8-10 years according to Bulldogguide.com. Stubby is now 14 years old and living a happy life with his human in Los Angeles, CA.

“I got him in college and he has been with me through many milestones — graduating from university, getting married, having kids,” said Daniel. “Now my sons are in their teens and he is thankfully still with us and is still pretty active for his age.”

Daniel shared his secret “recipe” with us for Stubby’s longevity.

“I think my “live lean, live well” approach for taking care of him is the reason for his longevity. Ever since he was a puppy, I’ve been careful to watch his portions and make sure he gets his daily dose of exercise. I’ve also taken great pains to ensure that he feels loved and safe in his home environment.”

Because Daniel works from home, he is able to stick to a daily routine for Stubby.

“I get up first thing in the morning and walk my dog, followed by his breakfast (portion controlled). Then we do one more walk in the afternoon followed by his dinner. I make sure his food is controlled and he does daily exercise which I believe is the key for him living this long.”

According to HomeoAnimal.com, having an overweight pet can significantly reduce its lifespan and quality of life. Giving your pet the appropriate portions for its activity level, age and size will definitely help it stay lean throughout its life.

Stubby eats a raw food diet and receives special treats like pig ears.

Cherry the Domestic Cat (age 22)

Yvette Berke is an animal advocate with more than 30 years’ experience in rescue, care and adoption. She currently serves as the outreach manager for The Little Angeles Project located in Agoura Hills, CA.

Cherry, a domestic medium-haired cat, was surrendered to a high-kill shelter at the age of 16.

The secret to Cherry’s long life?

“I feed her a diet of premium food (typically formulated to meet or exceed AAFCO standards) and fresh water,” said Yvette. “I also make sure she has a clean litter box and gets lots of love.”

Yvette said it is estimated that 15-20 percent of animals surrendered to shelters are due to health problems that owners cannot afford. While folks often say “my pet seems healthy, so I’m not taking it to the vet” subtle health changes can be picked up at regular exams and when addressed early may prevent serious and expensive problems later.

Moose the Chocolate Lab (age 18)

Growing up, Wesley Oaks had a chocolate Labrador named Moose that lived well past the average lifespan of the breed. Wesley lives in Clanton, AL and is the owner of Oddly Cute Pets.

“Our lab was the most affectionate dog I had ever seen. He passed away at 18 years of age,” said Wesley. “I feel Moose lived an abnormally long life because of the love he was surrounded by. We let him roam outdoors and come inside when needed but he always preferred to be by someone’s side. With a big family at home, he always had people loving on him.”

The deeply personal connection we forge with our dogs has led to improved care, and that extra care has improved their overall health and extended their lives believes DogQuality.com. They surmise that the more we treat our dogs the same as we treat any other family member, the longer and better their lives will be.

“I know all pet owners love their pets, but Moose was just spoiled when it came to attention,” said Wesley. “I honestly believe that’s why he lived as long as he did. When he passed away, he was surrounded by everyone in the house. It was an extremely emotional moment and something I’ll never forget.”

There is no doubt that people and pets benefit emotionally and physically from the human canine/feline bonds formed over the life of a pet.

People rely on dogs for company, friendship, and affection states VeryWellHealth.com. Recent data suggests dogs may also extend your life. A study published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology also found that people who own cats have a decreased risk for death due to heart attack or stroke.

If you want to test this longevity theory for yourself, adopt a pet and implement sustainable pet care practices.

To better understand the long life of many pets, we are conducting a Pet Longevity Study of our own. We encourage pet owners who have or had a pet that lived past its life expectancy to participate. 

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