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The leading cause of nonfatal injuries in the U.S. is falls, but until now few data has been published regarding falls associated with pets.

In the latest edition of MWMR by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 86,000 falls a year are attributed to four-legged family members. Of those injuries, 88 percent were associated with dogs, not cats.

The most common causes of pet-related injuries are chasing pets, tripping on pet toys and walking dogs.

“While there are many benefits to owning a pet, they can also be a hazard,” said Judy Stevens, a CDC epidemiologist who co-authored the study.

The report was based on emergency room reports from 66 hospitals during a five year period from 2001 through 2006. Overall, three out of every 10,000 falls involves a pet or pet-related item. The highest rates of injuries occurred in individuals 75 or older and the most common injury was a hip fracture.

An estimated ten percent of falls are serious and led to internal injuries or broken bones. Some of which required hospitalization.

The CDC recommends properly training pets to not walk in front of you or to pull on the leash. And choosing smaller dogs that may be easier to control.

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