Top causes of death in dogs and cats
One would think finding out the most common cause of death for dogs and cats would be simple. For was it not The Police, nearly 30 years ago, who gave voice to our data-saturated existence with the song "Too Much Information"? Indeed.
However, no national database of pet death records exists. At least not one that is publicly available. And so, we are left with a few ad hoc academic studies to piece together how pets die.
One study tracked the cause of death of military dogs from 1993 - 1996. The results:
- Appendicular degenerative joint disease
- Neoplasia (or tumors in lay terms)
- Spinal cord disease
- Old age
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus
The sample size was significant, 927 total cases. In addition to "natural" deaths, the study also included deaths due to euthanasia resulting from the above conditions. However, the limited number of dog breeds (Belgian and German Shepards) used for military purposes certainly skews the results and would not likely apply to the general dog population.
For cats, a study conducted in Great Britain in 2001, listed the top causes of death:
- Old age
- Kidney failure
- Traffic accidents
The sample size was smaller for this study, at 182 respondents. Interestingly, the older cats became, the less likely they were to die as a result of traffic accidents. So, while you may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks, your old cat can learn to avoid "high risk" behavior like crossing the street.
A Pilot Study on the Longevity and Causes of Death of Cats in Britain. Animal Welfare and Human-Animal Interactions Group, University of Cambridge. ISAZ 10th Anniversary Conference. August 2nd-4th, 2001