Tripping Over Pets Sends Thousands to ER
Injury Rates Highest Among People Over 75
Comparing Cats and Dogs
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
- 19,834 injuries involving emergency room visits occur when people are
walking dogs, compared to 40 for that reason for cats.
- 3,373 occur while people are playing with dogs, compared to 232 for
- 3,779 occur while people are chasing dogs, and 1,182 while chasing
- 449 occur when people are breaking up a fight involving a dog, compared to
18 for cats.
- 23,886 occur with people falling or tripping over a dog, compared to 6,727