Even Cats and Dogs Are Setting Records for Living Longer in Aging Japan

Japanese people are spending more on their pampered pets
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A Pet Care personnel helps a 12-year-old male dog with symptoms of epilepsy after receiving treatment in an oxygen capsule at the nursing and training facility in Tokyo.

Photographer: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

Not only does Japan now have more pets than kids, dogs and cats are extending their lifespans along with their aging owners.

The average longevity of dogs and cats has hit record highs of 13.2 years and 11.9 years, respectively, according to experts at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and the Japan Small Animal Veterinary Association.

The reasons for pets living longer include increased vaccinations, better veterinarian care, higher quality food and more pets living inside with their owners.

The number of pets in Japan has outpaced the population of kids. There were about 19.8 million of dogs and cats being kept as pets in Japan, according to a 2015 survey by Japan Pet Food Association. That compares with 15.9 million children age 14 and under.

In the fast-aging nation with the birth rate declining and people increasingly living alone, pets are replacing children in more and more households, so their owners are happy to spend big on everything from better food to pet clothing and even massages.

According to a 2010 survey by the Cabinet Office, about 34 percent of households in Japan have pets.

Sadly, not all pets are loved.  While the number of dogs and cats put down in Japan has fallen in recent years, government estimates show that more than 100,000 pets were euthanized in the 12 months ended March 2015. 

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