Watch Out for Fido!

New study shows that pets can pose a risk of injury from accidental falls.
By JoAnna Lou, March 2009, Updated July 2016

The benefits of pets are undeniable and, as a dog lover, any possible negatives (beyond vet bills and walks in the rain) seem inconceivable. However, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control found that, each year in the United States, nearly 90,000 people are injured in a fall involving their pet. Of those accidents, 88 percent were related to dogs or items such as toys.

The most frequent falls were among young children and adults age 35 to 54, but the highest injury rates occurred among people 75 and older.  This group is particularly at risk given how serious fractures can be at this age.

Dr. Judy Stevens, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, advises that “pet owners should be aware that there are certain situations that are more likely to lead to falls, such as when they’re walking their dog or if they’re chasing their pets.”

While these accidents only account for 1 percent of all fall-related injuries, the CDC believes that the number could be much lower by doing obedience training, to minimize leash pulling and jumping, and picking up toys left around the house.


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As an owner of two exuberant Shelties, I’ve trained them to be sensitive to my movement for agility--including not crossing in front of or behind my path. This seems to have come in handy around the house since, being Shelties, they want to be as close to me as possible. But, I do have to admit, I’ve tripped over many toys and even a baby gate. Fortunately, I haven’t had any serious injuries, but after reading this study, I’m thinking about teaching my dogs to put their toys away in a box

Have you ever taken a tumble over a dog, a toy or even a bone?

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.