March 27, 2009

Animals Source Of Thousands Of Hospital Visits

A dog may be man's best friend, but a new government study found they are also the cause of thousands of accidents every year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cats and dogs are a factor in more than 86,000 serious falls each year.

Yet, the incidents are relatively rare; they account for just 1 percent of injuries from falls.

CDC officials noted that they affect the elderly disproportionably. They recommend that older people improve lighting, remove pet toys, and use obedience training.

"There are many benefits to pet ownership. But they also can be a hazard," said Judy Stevens, a CDC epidemiologist who co-authored the study.

The rate was nearly twice as high for people 75 and older, while women were two times more likely to be injured than men.

The report is being published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers examined emergency department reports for 66 U.S. hospitals for the time span of 2001 through 2006. They checked patient charts for mentions of dogs and cats involved in nonfatal injuries.

They concluded from their findings that every year 3 out of every 10,000 people have fall-related injuries from cats or dogs that need hospital attention.

The study found that cats for the most part caused injuries by tripping people, and dogs were blamed in most of the pet-caused injuries. Dogs caused falls by running away, pulling owners off balance while going on a walk, and leaving behind toys.

"A lot of these statistics show the owner does not have complete control of dog," said Lisa Peterson, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, which runs a purebred dog registry and promotes responsible dog ownership.

Peterson suggests obedience training and reducing the number of dog toys could help reduce falls


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