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Injured By My Pet: You're Not Alone

Updated on November 17, 2016
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Most Pet Owners Have Interesting Stories To Tell

Every year some 86,000 Americans share a common bond I suspect they’d prefer they didn't. They are treated in a medical emergency facility for nonfatal injuries sustained during falls caused by cats and dogs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; maybe someday they’ll add the P) analyzed a study that, for the first time, provided national estimates of fall injuries associated with cats and dogs.

The data are contained in a report from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP), operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, for the period 2001—2006. This isn’t breaking news, obviously, but it’s the latest data available.

Perhaps now that medical facilities are converting to electronic record keeping, someday someone will be able to coordinate such data with just a few keystrokes and put it instantly right at our fingertips.

While 86,000 sounds like a lot, it actually only represents about 1% of the nation’s 8 million trip and fall injuries treated by emergency departments each year. Of course, if you took that number as strictly a percentage of total dog or cat owners, I’ll bet it would be much higher.

Our dogs, God bless ‘em, are the biggest culprits, causing 88% of the injuries. The most common was fractures (30.7%), next was contusion and abrasions (26.2%), followed by strain/sprain (18.8%), lacerations (12.8%) and internal injuries (4.2%).

“What are the circumstances of these injuries?” you ask. Here it is, straight from the report: “Injuries to the extremities accounted for 51.8% of injuries associated with dogs and 47.6% of injuries associated with cats.

The majority of fall injuries occurred inside or in the immediate environment outside the home. Among falls involving dogs, 61.6% occurred in or around the home and 16.4% in the street or other public place. A location was not specified for 20.3% of cases.

26% of falls involving dogs occurred while persons were walking them, and the most frequent circumstances were falling or tripping over a dog (31.3%) and being pushed or pulled by a dog (21.2%). Falling over a pet item (e.g., a toy or food bowl) accounted for 8.8% of fall injuries. Approximately 38.7% involved other or unknown circumstances.”

Most dog owners have gotten pulled around town by their dogs, and many of those have sustained injuries as a result.
Most dog owners have gotten pulled around town by their dogs, and many of those have sustained injuries as a result. | Source

Surprisingly enough, injuries were most frequent among people under age 14 and between 35 and 54 years of age. Not surprisingly, fracture rates were highest among people older than 75.

We cat owners don’t usually get tangled up in leashes, but how many times have we tripped over our cats in the dark? My cat, Fluffy, has this annoying habit of lying in the middle of hallways and on staircases.

I rise before the sun (and the wife) each morning, so I walk around mostly in the dark to (A) minimize my carbon footprint and (B) not disturb the boss (and not necessarily in that order). However, if I don’t know where Fluffy is, I don’t walk. I do a shuffle.

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Every winter I suffer near electrocution after shuffling across rugs and touching doorknobs, but does Fluffy appreciate that? NOOO. When she’s sitting on the stairs does she move when this 183 lb. hulk bears down on her? NOOO. She didn’t move when I was a 236 lb. hulk, either. Over the years, I have tripped over her a few times. Guess who learned their lesson? Me.

So, with all the other diseases and dangers we have to watch out for, now we have to live with the knowledge that owning a dog or cat can be hazardous to our health. I’ll bet we all agree on this, though: they’re worth it!

Now It's Your Turn

Tell Us About Your Pet Related Accident

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What Type of Injury Did You Sustain?

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    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Ok, now I'm going to walk around after dark with a flashlight, put bells on my animals and keep all dishes and toys in the safest corner at the end of the day...there! Now, I've solved this problem...or NOT! Actually, I've tripped so many times I'm lucky to be alive..over kittens, puppies, cats and dogs and all manner of toys, dishes, chains, leashes and regurgitation. Oh, woe is me! This is a very illuminating hub, Bob...thanks for the heads up (well, head's up if we're lucky and haven't landed on our rear ends!!~!)...very useful, iteresting and UP!!!

    • Bob Bamberg profile image
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      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Thanks for stopping by, Lucky Cats. I thought of you when I wrote this because I figured you'd have a gazillion stories to tell, and the scars to prove them! Glad to provide a heads up...or is it heads over heels? By the way, I haven't been getting emails from HPages for a few days, either. I thought they didn't love me anymore.

      Regards, Bob

    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      OMG, I don't mean to laugh, but your comment about electric shocks from shuffling is SO TRUE!! Hilarious! I get those shocks all the time in the winter, especially here in Las Vegas where the humidity is like ten percent almost all year! Shocking! :)

      AND, this hub is perfect this morning! Just an hour ago, I was putting another load of laundry into the wash machine and almost tripped over DIXIE! She was about to rub the back of my legs like she does for attention and I came so CLOSE to tripping over her! Cats like to do the leg rub to show affection. She also lays on throw rugs at the bottom of the steps and other inconvenient places where she nearly gets stepped on! Voted up and across!! :)

    • Bob Bamberg profile image
      Author

      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi Kathy, nice to hear from you again. Thanks for the votes. Dixie sounds like my cat...dumb as a box of rocks, but really special when they sit on your chest and lick your cheek.

      I'll be leaning back in my recliner and she'll sit on my chest blocking my view of the TV, but she only stays for 10 or 15 minutes so I consider it quality time.

      She used to ambush me in the dining room. I'd walk through in the dark and she'd jump out and grab my ankles...scared the bejeebers out of me until I outsmarted her.

      I walk halfway through, then turn around and walk backwards so my toes are always facing her. She only ambushes when she sees my heels. She may be dumb...but here's this rocket scientist walking backwards through his dining room LOL. You gotta love 'em. Thanks for stopping by. Regards, Bob

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Surprisingly enough, of all the animals I've had, I've never had more than a scratch or a bite. I've never tripped over any of them. I've almost tripped a time or two, but caught myself. I'm sure the cat got a bang out of that!

      Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image

      Lisa 3 years ago

      We need to establish language in our legal system to protect people against other peoples' pets. We need a "Notice of Intent to Trap and Remove" to post in the newspaper, media, etc. My neighbors cats are all over my property and I recently tripped and fell, spraining my ankle. The cats are underfed, trying to get into my house, into my car. The neighbors do not ever call, "here, kitty, kitty." and leave the cats to roam the neighborhood.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image
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      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hello Ann1Az2, please be assured that I responded to your comment hours after you posted it. I don't know why it didn't appear. When I logged on to respond to Lisa's comment, I saw that my response to yours from 10 mos ago was missing.

      I think your experience is unusual for someone who has had pets all her life. Trip and fall injuries seem to be common. Not everyone ends up in a cast, but there is often muscle, tendon, etc. soreness for a time afterwards. Thanks for taking the time to comment and vote. Regards, Bob

      Hello, Lisa. You've made some excellent points. Not everyone is a responsible pet owner, and that shouldn't negatively impact others' pursuit of happiness.

      Even responsible pet owners sometimes allow their pets to intrude upon others' space under the notion that everyone thinks the pet is delightful. And one doesn't have to dislike animals to be put off by the antics of a pet that isn't properly controlled.

      Years ago I had a neighbor who allowed his dog to bark incessantly, disturbing the entire neighborhood. Many of us spoke to him about it but it didn't do much good.

      He got reassigned in his job and moved, so I assume the dog became some other neighborhood's problem. I've known others who have had to get authorities involved in order to settle a barking dog issue.

      It's too bad that some people have to spend frustration, time and money because of inconsiderate pet owners, but it frequently happens. Thanks for commenting. Regards, Bob

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