From the Journals

The dangers of dog walking



Elderly people were significantly more likely to experience a fracture while walking a dog in 2017 than they were in 2004, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The number of dog-walking injuries among those aged 65 and older increased significantly from 2004 to 2017.

The estimated number of fractures associated with walking a leashed dog was 4,396 in 2017 among those aged 65 years and older, compared with 1,671 in 2004, which is a significant increase, Kevin Pirruccio of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and his associates wrote in JAMA Surgery.

Over the entire study period, 2004-2017, almost 79% of all fractures occurred in women and 67% of all patients were treated in the emergency department and released. The most common injury was hip fracture (17.3%), although upper-extremity fractures were more common (52.1%) than those of the lower extremities (29.4%), trunk (10.1%), or head and neck (7.3%), the investigators reported.

“For older adults – especially those living alone and with decreased bone mineral density – the risks associated with walking leashed dogs merit consideration. Even one such injury could result in a potentially lethal hip fracture, lifelong complications, or loss of independence,” they wrote.

The retrospective, cross-sectional analysis involved the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, which includes approximately 100 hospital emergency departments. The investigators did not report any conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Pirruccio K et al. JAMA Surg. 2019 Mar 6. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2019.0061.

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