Study finds elderly fractures linked to dog-walking

Man’s best friend often brings love, affection and companionship.

But for the elderly – a dog can also bring a trip to the emergency room, according to one recent study.

It shows dog walking-related fractures are common in older people.

Chad Deal, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study, but agrees – and says he sees, what he calls, a “canine fracture” at least once a month.

“The typical scenario would be walking the dog; the dog lunges at another dog, or the dog runs around some type of pole, and the dog walker trips over the leash,” he said.

Researchers studied consumer product safety commission data from 2004 – 2017.

They analyzed injury information for people age 65 and older from approximately 100 hospital emergency departments.

Results show fractures associated with walking a dog on a leash have increased significantly – most of them occurring in women.

The article shows about 17 percent of fractures were hip fractures.

According to Dr. Deal, the number of fractures is significant, because about 20 percent of women, and 40 percent of men, die within one year of suffering a hip fracture.

Overall, upper extremity fractures – the wrist, arm and forearm – were most common.

Dr. Deal said, the good news, is many dog-related falls can be prevented if elderly people stay relatively fit, and maintain some general physical strength.

“It really pays to have good balance and good muscle strength, because, a lot of times, if the dog pulls and your muscles are healthy, and they’re strong, you can have countermeasures that prevent you from falling,” said Dr. Deal.

Dr. Deal recommends elderly people make sure their dogs are well trained and obedient.

He also suggests walking dogs where there aren’t a lot of other animals for them to lunge at.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Surgery.