Pets and Injuries

Fido and Fluffy may be some our favourite companions, but they’re also apparently the cause of falls that results in thousands of injuries each year.

U.S. health officials report that more than 86,000 people are injured annually in dog- and cat-related falls. That’s one per cent of falls from all causes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That latter number is probably the same here in Canada.

Dogs accounted for 88 percent of the injuries and cats for nearly all of the rest.

People hurt by dogs usually either tripped over the pet, or fell after the dog pushed or pulled them. Most of these falls occurred at home, and tripping over pet paraphernalia was also a problem.

The researchers say one way to reduce the risk for dog-related falls is to enroll a dog in obedience training, which should be able to stop, or at least lessen, the animal’s pushing, pulling and jumping.

Meanwhile, two thirds of injuries involving cats were caused falling or tripping over the animal.

Women were twice as likely to be injured as men. The majority of them were either under 14, or middle-aged, but people 75 to 85 years old had the highest rate of fractures.

These risks have to be balanced with the benefits of having a pet. Several studies have shown that our furry friends can help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety and increasing opportunities for socializing.

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