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

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Women were twice as likely to be injured as men. Those most often injured were either younger than 14 years or between 35 and 54 years old, the researchers found. However, the highest rate of fractures occurred in people 75 to 85 years old. Of people who required hospitalization from a pet-related injury, about 80 percent had a broken bone.

Most falls involving dogs, 62 percent, occurred at home; 16 percent happened in a street or a park. Pet paraphernalia was cited as the cause of about 9 percent of the falls at home.

As for cats, 86 percent of falls involving felines happened in the home, 17 percent of them while chasing the cat.

One way to reduce the risk for dog-related falls, Stevens said, would be to enroll a dog in obedience training, which should be able to stop, or at least lessen, the animal's pushing, pulling and jumping.

"You can also prevent falls by removing tripping hazards like pet items," she said.

Colin Milner, chief executive of the International Council on Active Aging, said that keeping fit as you age should also help reduce the likelihood of falls.

People need to keep their homes clean and uncluttered, he said. And, when picking a pet, Milner suggested trying to match the pet to your personality and, perhaps, choosing a more mellow rather than a more excitable pet.

One reason people fall is that they become less coordinated as they age, Milner said. "Many of these fall could be preventable if you had better balance," he said. "The number of falls could be reduced with a very simple balance and strength-training program."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have more on preventing injury.



SOURCES: Judy Stevens, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atla
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