Simply put, as people live longer and healthier lives, so do their pets. In other words, the two "parallel" each other.
Of course, this is also influenced by the choices pet parents make for their pets, and by the breeds they choose
For dog breeds especially, small or medium breeds live much longer than large breeds. In fact, a dog's longevity is directly related to its size. Toy breeds live longest of all, while "giant" breeds like Newfoundland and St. Bernards have a shorter lifespan of about six to eight years (although that, too, is stretching out to be about 10 years based upon new averages). Large, more common breeds like shepherds or Labradors, live 10 to 13 years on average.
Choose a Mutt
Mixed breeds also live longer than pure breeds, because they tend to be hardier and don't always exhibit common health problems that can be associated with certain dog breeds.
Cats live even longer
Although dogs can certainly live a long time, especially if they are of a mixed breed or smaller size, cats seem to have a bigger edge when it comes to living longer. A well cared for cat that lives completely indoors can easily live to the upper teens or early 20s.
Things you can do to help your "fur kids" live longer
* Feed them good diets - but don't overfeed
Perhaps the biggest mistake a pet parent can make is to over feed their pets. Although you may think that over feeding your pet is a loving gesture, it's not. It shortens a pet's life significantly. With cats and dogs, you should be able to feel ribs underneath their fur but not see them. Your vet will be able to tell you what a healthy weight for your pet is.
* Keep your pets active
Even older pets like to play; if your older kitty or dog is beginning to exhibit signs of arthritis, be gentle. However, do make sure your pet gets some exercise every day. Your dog should be walked at least once a day. In addition, if you have just one cat, get a feline playmate for her. This is easier to do when your cat is younger, but having a playmate will keep your cat engaged and active.
* Keep teeth cleaned
Every year, take your pet to the vet and make sure teeth are checked and if necessary cleaned, in addition to regular checkups, and shots. Bad teeth can cause problems with blood-borne infections, and can damage internal organs like kidneys and heart. If your pet will let you, make sure you brush their teeth regularly, and provide toys to chew on.
* Check for lumps and bumps
If your older pet, especially, has lumps or bumps, get them checked out immediately. Cancer is often very treatable, even in older animals, but you have to catch it early.
* Make things easier for older pets
If your pet is older and having trouble seeing, hearing, or simply getting around, make things easier for them by putting litter boxes in strategic places so that kitties don't have to walk far, cutting down sides of litter boxes so that they're easier to get into, providing pet "steps" by furniture so that they can easily get on it instead of having to try to jump up, and above all, giving pets lots of attention and love. Pets don't have the same psychological negativity about getting older as people sometimes can. They just want to be treated the same as they always have been, with lots of love and attention by the people who matter most - you.
Photo Credit: hassan abdel-rahman