Dogs and cats are living longer than ever
Posted On August 6, 2021
In the United States, dogs live on average 40 years longer than their cat counterparts.
But, a new study shows that, while that is a good thing, the average lifespan of an indoor dog may actually be 40 years shorter than the average cat.
The researchers looked at the lifespan of dogs and cats in the United Kingdom and found that the average indoor dog is now expected to live between 44 and 45 years, while the average outdoor dog is expected to be between 44.8 and 46.2 years old.
The study, which was published in the journal BMC Paediatrics, showed that a dog that was born in the UK had an average lifespan around 44.4 years, whereas an outdoor dog that had been born in England had an expected lifespan of 44.6 years.
“We know that we live longer when we have indoor dogs, so what are the long-term effects of the different types of indoor dog?” said lead author of the study, Dr. Michael J. Bickerton, a researcher in the Department of Animal Science at University College London.
“It is important to remember that a cat can be more than 40 years old and an indoor cat may be a little bit older than that.”
Bickertons research showed that the length of time that a person can live indoors with a pet has also increased dramatically in the past few decades.
The number of people who can walk their pet indoors has been increasing steadily over the past 20 years, with the number of dogs being counted as the second most common type of companion animal.
The average indoor pet has an average of 11 years, or about 10 years longer in terms of their lifespan than the outdoor dog, Bickerons study showed.
“Our study shows there is no clear relationship between the length or longevity of a dog or cat and its owner,” Bickers study concluded.
However, the findings do not necessarily mean that dogs and pets are happier or healthier.
Bicks study also looked at life expectancy, and found dogs live an average 15.5 years longer on average than cats.
However Bickerns research also showed that people who live in areas with higher numbers of dogs have longer life expectancies than people living in areas where fewer dogs live.
“A dog that is adopted from a shelter, or has been abandoned by its owner, or whose owner is ill and unable to care for it, may live for a long time with its owner and therefore may have longer lifespans than someone who has adopted a dog,” Bicks said.
“The reason for this is because dogs that have been abandoned have less food, they may be ill, and may have some diseases and they have a higher mortality rate than those that have received a new owner.”
The researchers say that more research is needed to determine whether it is possible to increase the lifespan in a pet by adopting one.
“What we know for certain is that indoor dogs are happier, healthier, more sociable and are less likely to get sick,” Bickers study said.
Bickerins research also found that older dogs had shorter life expectants.
While indoor dogs were expected to have shorter life spans, outdoor dogs were also expected to survive longer.
For example, the study found that a 30-year-old outdoor dog who was born with a spleen would have an expected life expectancy of 50.6, while a 60-year old outdoor dog born with an intact spleen and a heart valve would have a expected life span of 45.8.
“People think that if they just adopt an older dog it will help him live longer, but the reality is that older dog owners tend to be more sick and they can also have longer lives,” Bickerings study concluded, adding that the longer life expectancy an older pet has, the more difficult it is for them to care, bond and communicate with their pet.