Dogs and cats aren't usually the best of friends. After all, they're famous for fighting like, well, you know how the saying goes. In millions of homes across the nation and around the world, battle lines have been drawn as canine companions and feline friends go head to head for the title of "boss of the house".
Every dog lover knows that it's no contest — dogs win hands-down every time — but there is one important area where cats are actually superior to dogs: lifespan.
Yep, on average, cats live longer than dogs. But before you start questioning everything you know about the pros and cons of dogs vs cats, let's take a closer look at why it is that felines have a larger lifespan.
Signs of Aging in Dogs
Is your hearing not what it used to be? Eyesight fading with each passing year? Does the pain in your stiff, aching joints make it harder and harder to get up in the morning?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you may actually be quite familiar with how your dog is feeling as he heads towards old age. The signs of aging in dogs are quite similar to the signs of aging in people, so it's often quite easy to pick up on the telltale signs that your dog is no longer young and full of beans.
Hearing loss and fading eyesight are common indicators, as is a general shift to a more sedentary lifestyle as your dog starts to slow down. The energy and enthusiasm of puppyhood are replaced with a more relaxed, laidback, and mature approach to life, but aching joints could also make your pooch reluctant to exercise or at least slow to get moving.
Increased urination and urinary incontinence may start to develop, while if you've neglected your dog's oral hygiene over the years then dental disease problems might start to rear their ugly head. Your dog's weight may also change — some dogs have trouble maintaining their weight and need a higher-calorie diet, while others become less active and need to eat a little lighter as a result.
Finally, you may also notice behavior changes in your furry friend. In addition to slowing down, your pooch may become confused, disoriented, and irritable, suffer from memory loss, pace unusually, and exhibit other abnormal behaviors.
The Science Behind Cats Living Longer Than Dogs
Meow! In the battle of who lives longer, it's a narrow victory for the cats. While dogs live to an average age of 12 years, cats can expect to reach the impressive 15-year milestone.
Why do cats live longer? It's thought that one of the things that makes dogs such wonderful companions — their friendly and sociable nature — could actually be their downfall. Dogs are social animals that live in packs, which unfortunately makes the spread of infectious diseases much easier. Meanwhile, cats are solitary and aloof, often preparing to look down on the rest of the world from afar than engage with it, which reduces their odds of catching diseases and then spreading them to other felines.
Despite the numbers, it's also worth pointing out that there are several factors that can affect how long any individual animal lives. For example, a dog's size, breed, weight, and level of care they receive throughout their life can all play a part. Size is widely considered to be the biggest factor — while some small breeds like the Chihuahua have an average lifespan of up to 17 years, certain giant breeds live for just 7 or 8 years.
By the same token, there are also several variables that affect how long cats live. For example, cats that live solely indoors have a much longer lifespan than outdoor cats.
However, as veterinary care has become more advanced and sophisticated in recent years, the average lifespan of both species has increased dramatically. Dogs today are expected to live twice as long as they were just four decades ago, so who knows how their average life expectancy will change in the coming years?
How to Help Your Dog Live a Long Life
There are some factors of your dog's health that are simply out of your control, but there are plenty of simple things you can do to maximize your pet's chances of a long and happy life. In a nutshell, it all comes down to being a responsible dog owner and looking after your pooch from puppyhood right through to old age.
Diet and exercise are two key pillars of canine health, so feeding a healthy, balanced diet and providing plenty of regular physical activity is essential. By helping your fur-kid stay in a healthy weight range, you can greatly reduce the odds of them suffering from a host of serious health problems.
Mental stimulation is crucial to your dog's overall well-being, so always be on the lookout for activities that can challenge and exercise your dog's mind. Parasite prevention is similarly vital, so speak to your vet about what you need to do to protect your pet against any of these nasties.
Speaking of your vet, one final thing to remember is the importance of regular check-ups. By taking your furry friend for regular vet visits, you'll be able to catch health problems as they develop and hopefully control them before they turn into anything too serious. Your veterinarian will also be able to help you vaccinate and spay/neuter your pet — two more simple tasks that could greatly increase a dog's life expectancy.
By a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk
Published: 03/15/2018, edited: 04/06/2020