For a long time, most dogs and cats died after 10 to 12 years, said Carol Osborne, a veterinarian and founder of the American Pet Institute in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
In a 13-year clinical study she has been conducting on the prevention of age-related degenerative diseases in canines, some large-breed dogs are enjoying high-quality lives even at 18 years of age, and some small-breed dogs are still going strong at 24.
But the overarching reason for longer life spans could be the way we view our pets as part of the family instead of “just an animal” or a worker helping out on a farm, Goldfarb said.
Americans are spending more money than ever to care for their pets — an estimated $45.5 billion in 2009, according to the American Pet Products Association. That figure has doubled in the past 10 years.