Have you ever wondered what state you should move to to ensure the long-term health of your dog or cat? Me neither. But I'm sure some of you have. And now, thanks to a new survey from a chain of pet hospitals, we know.

As with humans, Southern states tend to be the most unhealthy for dogs and cats. The survey, compiled by Banfield Pet Hospital, reports that Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana had shortest life spans for dogs, though Massachusetts was up there too. Delaware, Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi were the worst for cats.

The places with the longest life spans for pets? Montana, Rhode Island, Illinois, Oregon and Nebraska.

The reason for the difference? Aside from health issues, like mosquitoes, lyme disease and heat stroke, the biggest factor is apparently the percentage of dogs and cats that are spayed or neutered. From USA Today:

Nearly 20% of the cats in Louisiana and Mississippi aren't spayed or neutered but in Montana and Colorado, the states with the longest lifespan, that number is closer to 8%.

Neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs, according to the report.

In Mississippi, the state ranking lowest for pet longevity, 44% of the dogs are not neutered or spayed, says Dr. Brandy Boykin a veterinarian in Jackson, Mississippi.

"When people come in and don't spay or neuter their pets – they usually say they want to breed their pet or they are afraid to put them under anesthesia," Boykin says. "A lot of Mississippi is still rural."

So, long story short: don't move your pet to Mississippi.

[Images via Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health]

To contact the author of this post, email taylor@gawker.com