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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 often.

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 that:

  • 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 cats.
  • 3,779 occur while people are chasing dogs, and 1,182 while chasing cats.
  • 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 with cats.

 

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