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Pets living longer

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - As the life expectancy of people increases, so does the number of years many pets live.

Nowadays, it's not unusual for dogs and cats to reach 15 years or older.  One reason is that we're taking better care of them.

South Georgia vets say the life expectancy for dogs and cats has seen remarkable increases in recent years. Studies show that people with pets live longer and happier lives, and now it seems more of us are keeping that human animal bond going for more years.

Red is a happy and healthy 13 year old Irish Setter.  Dr. Matt Masters said "He's a former show dog."

Dr. Matt Masters says he is seeing more older dogs like Red and older cats in his practice.He says tremendous gains in veterinary medicine, and pet owners willingness to pay for the care for what they feel are members of the family, has lengthened their lives.

Masters said "We're able to treat things that used to not be treatable. Surgical procedures to help manage things that used to end a pet's life. Now we're able to help them not only live longer but better."

The pet you choose will decide many times how long it lives. Small or medium size dogs live longer than large dogs. Giant breeds often live only about half as long as smaller dogs. Cats breeds like Siamese that live indoors often reach their upper teens in years.

Pet care can also make a huge difference. Studies found that underweight dogs live an average two years longer than overweight dogs.

Masters said "You know they killed them with kindness when you see a dog that is supposed to weigh 15 pounds and he weighs 30. Obesity in pets, just like in humans, is a real problem today."

Masters says tremendous advances in preventative care for pets have been made in the last decade.  That combined with better pet nutrition has dogs and cats living years longer than their ancestors just a few decades ago.

And the formula has changed for calculating a dog's age in human years.

The first two dog years equal 24 for humans, then add four years for each subsequent year. So, that means 13-year-old Red is actually 68 in human years.

Now if you want to add years to your dog's life, some breeders recommend slowing their early growth.

You can do that by avoiding high protein and mineral supplement puppy foods.

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