It’s true what they say about dogs being man’s — and woman’s — best friend. They’re lovable and loyal, cuddly companions and faithful family protectors. But they also can be dangerous, and not just because some dogs have been known to bite. A new study has found a disturbing rise in the number of broken bones people, especially the elderly, have suffered as a result of falls that occurred while walking their dogs.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at government data and found the number of people aged 65 and older nationwide who went to an emergency room for an injury received while walking a dog leapt from 1,700 in 2004 to nearly 4,400 in 2017.
Hip fractures were the most common injuries and 80 percent of the patients were women, who have less dense bones compared with men. This is even more concerning because previous research has shown at least one in four elderly adults dies within one year of breaking a hip.
As you might expect, the injuries typically were a result of Fido pulling on a leash, causing the person on the other end to lose their balance.
Some have questioned whether the increased numbers are because America’s population is getting grayer, while others point out that changes in the way hospitals now code injuries could be a factor.
No one, of course, is suggesting the elderly get rid of their pets. Research has shown dogs are wonderful companions for older adults, and walking them is a good way to stay active.
But dog owners who intend to keep on walking their fur-babies might want to consider adding strength training to their exercise routines. Also, it’s a good idea to enroll your precocious pup in an obedience class.