Your Pets Are Conspiring Against You

Dogs and cats are a lurking household hazard, according to a new LiveScience’s report, showing the pets cause all kinds of injuries related to falls. The pet trips — estimated at more than 80,000 a year — occurred while people were chasing after them, stepping over them, breaking up a Fido fight, and other scenarios.

Dogs and cats cause 86,000 household falls each year. Photo: Bone Appetite Sarasota

Tripping over pets. Infographic: LiveScience

Dogs and cats are a lurking household hazard, according to a new LiveScience’s report, showing the pets cause all kinds of injuries related to falls. The pet trips — estimated at more than 80,000 a year — occurred while people were chasing after them, stepping over them, breaking up a Fido fight, and other scenarios.

Cats are underfoot almost as much, but dogs are more than seven times more likely to cause a “pet fall” because “dogs are bigger and stronger, and we do see children and women are most likely to be involved in a fall with a dog,” a CDC expert tells LiveScience, adding that women and children are on average smaller and weaker and so more likely to get pushed or pulled.

Those injured noted various circumstances for their injuries, including: “tripped while crossing the street with their dog,” “fainted while training her dog,” and “walking dog and fell up steps,” among other circumstances.

“Certainly pets are wonderful and have many benefits, so we’re not saying anything about not having pets,” said study researcher Judy Stevens, a senior epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The results come from a nationally representative sample of emergency department visits to about 60 hospitals from Jan. 1, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2006, finding some 7,456 records were linked to pet-related falls.

From this, the researchers calculated the national estimate would reach 86,629 for fall injuries associated with cats and dogs in the United States in 2006. Though an alarming number, it’s just 1 percent of the 8 million fall injuries treated in emergency departments, Stevens said.

More than a quarter of dog-related injuries happened while people were walking the pet, with the most frequent circumstances falling or tripping over one’s dog (see the infographic) and being pushed or pulled by the four-legged friends.

As cats are mostly homebodies, it’s no surprise most falls involving the bossy felines (nearly 86 percent) occurred in or around the house. Nearly 12 percent of these injuries happened while people were chasing cats.

In 2006, about 43 million U.S. households owned dogs and 37.5 million households had cats. Nearly 64 percent of households with pets had more than one pet, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. [via Newser and LiveScience; image via Bone Appetite Sarasota; Infographic via LiveScience]

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