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For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
Date:3/26/2009

Being pulled by a dog or chasing a cat causes many tumbles, CDC reports,,

THURSDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Dogs and cats may be favored companions of many Americans, but they're also apparently the cause of falls that results in thousands of injuries each year.

U.S. health officials report that 86,629 people annually are injured in dog- and cat-related falls. That's 240 people a day who wind up in hospital emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I get asked a lot if pets are a fall hazard," said Judy Stevens, a senior epidemiologist at the CDC and first author of the report. "We found that of the 8 million falls from all causes, about 1 percent were related to cats and dogs."

Acknowledging that pets provide benefits, too, Stevens said that the CDC wanted to make people aware that they can be a fall hazard, and the benefits need to be balanced with these risks.

Pets have been linked in several studies to a variety of health benefits, including help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety and increasing opportunities for socializing.

In 2006, an estimated 43 million U.S. households included dogs, and 37.5 million households had cats. In addition, almost 64 percent of households with pets had more than one pet, according to the report, published in the March 27 issue of the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For the study, Stevens and her colleagues collected data on falls from 66 emergency departments across the country from 2001 to 2006. Dogs accounted for 88 percent of the injuries from falls and cats for nearly all of the rest.

Among people injured by dogs, 31 percent tripped over the dog, and 21 percent fell after being pushed or pulled by a dog. Among injuries involving cats, 66 percent were attributed to falling or tripping over the anim
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