Dogs and cats underfoot can lead to falls

Animal Welfare Specialist
Cathy has worked in the animal welfare field for more than 25 years. As a Director of Public Relations for local and national animal welfare agencies, Cathy developed and managed public relations programs, wrote press materials, and prepared staff to handle media interviews on animal issues.

The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the CDC reports that there are 86,629 reported nonfatal falls annually that are associated with dog and cats. This is an average taken from 2001-2006 stats on nonfatal falls. Nearly 88 percent of those injuries were associated with dogs, and women were twice as likely to seek medical treatment for pet-related falls than men, the CDC said.

The most common primary injury diagnosis was fracture (30.7 percent), followed by contusions/abrasions (26.2 percent), strain/sprain (18.8 percent) laceration (12.8 percent) and internal injury (4.2 percent).

The study looked at unintentional, nonfatal fall injuries treated in emergency departments from 2001 to 2006, as recording by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program, operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CDC estimates were based on 7,456 cases that involved dogs or cats.

More than at 61 percent of dog-related falls occurred in or around the home and another 16.4 percent occurred in the street or another public place. The location was not known in 20.3 percent of the cases. At least 26 percent of dog-related falls occurred while walking the dog; 31.3 percent involved falling or tripping over the dog; 21.2 percent involved people being pulled or pushed over by the dog, and 8.8 percent involved tripping over a dog item, such as a toy or bowl. Nearly 40 percent of falls, however, were related to other or unknown causes.

By comparison, nearly two-thirds of cat related falls were attributed to falling or tripping over the cat; 3.5 percent to tripping over a pet item; and nearly one percent attributed to being pulled or pushed over by the cat. About 30 percent of cases were related to other or unknown causes.

Having pets underfoot may increase the chances you will fall, but that can easily be countered with increased awareness and some obedience training for dogs. Being able to tell a dog to “sit” in the kitchen or while out on a walk can greatly reduce the chances that you will trip over your pet. The key is to pay attention and make sure they are listening.

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