WebMD Pet Health News
Laura J. Martin, MD
April 23, 2010 -- Taking your faithful petdog for a stroll may be good for
cardiovascular health, but it can also be dangerous. According to a CDC report,
many people get hurt every year when chasing or tripping over their pets --
cats as well as dogs.
The study, published in the Journal of Safety Research, shows that
dogs and cats contribute to injuries that send an estimated 87,000 people to
emergency rooms every year.
The study also shows that:
The statistics come from a study of nonfatal injuries in the U.S. that
examined 66 emergency departments between Jan. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2006.
Falls and ER visits suggest the need for more pet-obedience training for
dogs, but basic prevention strategies should be implemented to help people
reduce their risk of injury when walking Rover or reaching for the cat, says
Judy A. Stevens, PhD, a senior epidemiologist for the CDC's National Center for
Injury Prevention and Control.
The researchers identified 7,456 cases of pet-caused ER visits, and
estimated an average of 86,629 fall injuries associated with cats and dogs
occur in the U.S. every year.
The researchers found that:
"The report provides the first national estimates of fall injuries
associated with cats and dogs and supports anecdotal evidence that pets can
present a fall hazard," the researchers write. The study also shows that
walking dogs and chasing pets cause the greatest number of injuries.
Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, an Atlanta internist and past president of the
American College of Physicians, tells WebMD she sees pet-caused injuries quite
Dogs, she says, cause more problems to her patients than cats.
"I tell patents to be careful, make sure you walk the dog, not let the dog
walk you," she says. "People of all ages can fall and skin knees or hands, but
older patients are more likely to have weaker bones due to osteoporosis and
suffer fracture if they fall."
Gail Hayes, a spokeswoman for the CDC Injury Center, says dogs may cause
more problems when being walked simply because of their size.
"About 19,834 falls resulting in injuries each year happened while people
were walking dogs, whereas a very small number of such falls happened while
people were walking cats," Hayes tells WebMD in an email. "About 16,137 falls
each year happened as a result of being pushed or pulled by dogs," compared to
91 for cats.
Stevens and colleagues caution that the number of pet-related injuries is
likely higher than the 87,000 estimated in the study, because many people do
not seek help in emergency departments.
The problem isn't insignificant, the researchers say, because 43 million
American households own dogs and 37.5 million cats. And nearly 64% of
households have more than one pet.
The report also details causes of injuries involving pets, reporting
SOURCES:Stevens, J. Journal of Safety Research, manuscript received ahead of
print.Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, Atlanta internist.Gail Hayes, spokeswoman, CDC Injury Center.WebMD Health News: "Pets
Cause Thousands of Injuries."
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