How walking the dog can be harmful to your health: 'Man's best friend' may cause high number of injuries
The regular walks and companionship that come with owning a dog are known to aid fitness and wellbeing.
But it turns out that man’s best friend may be more likely to harm health than help it.
They may be responsible for a worryingly high number of injuries needing emergency hospital treatment, researchers say.
Risk of broken bones: Elderly women walking their pets on uneven ground were thought to be most in danger because they are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis (file picture)
Over only two months, doctors at one hospital noted 37 cases of patients needing treatment for broken bones, soft tissue injuries and head wounds caused by dogs.
Sixteen of them needed surgery. Most were pulled over by their pet while it was on a lead, while others tripped while out walking, fell over leads or were knocked over as their dog ran towards them.
Doctors were so surprised by the results – which suggest the hospital deals with more than 200 dog-related injuries a year – that they concluded the risks to dog owners’ health may ‘offset any benefits’.
Concern: One hospital noted 37 cases in two months of patients needing treatment for injuries caused by dogs (file picture)
‘We have shown that dog-related injuries are common, particularly in the elderly,’ said Dr Henry Willmott of the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, East Sussex.
‘The presence of a dog in the house should be taken into consideration when the risk of falls is being assessed and dog obedience training should be considered. I am sure that this is a common phenomenon across the UK.’
He added: ‘Elderly women walking their dog on uneven ground were most at risk of injury. Some of the injuries were serious and resulted in considerable morbidity.’
Dr Willmott suggested more elderly women than men were hurt because they are more likely to have weaker bones due to osteoporosis.
The study, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, is the first to look at how many injuries – other than biting – dogs cause. Previous research has shown owning a dog can ward off depression, lower blood pressure and even combat obesity.
Dogs have been shown to reduce the risk of developing eczema and may be able to sniff out cancer before symptoms develop.