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How dogs could pose a risk for older Americans

Walking your dog is a great way to get outdoors and exercise, but a recent study published in JAMA Surgery cautions older adults about dog walking and associated injuries.

Researchers found that the number of emergency room visits due to fractures associated with walking leashed dogs increased significantly nationwide from about 1,700 in 2004 to nearly 4,400 in 2017 among people 65 years of age or older. The majority of these patients were women, and the most common types of fractures were hip and wrist.

“Balance and coordination deteriorate over time, which can cause one to fall,” says Dr. Ram Aribindi, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill.

Dr. Aribindi also offers these tips for seniors to reduce the risk of falls while dog walking:

  • Consider performing exercises such as yoga and tai chi to strengthen your muscles and improve your gait.
  • Enroll in a pet obedience class to teach your dog the proper way to walk on a lead. Walking your dog can be a great exercise for both you and your dog; however, it can also be hazardous if your dog is not properly trained, Dr. Aribindi says.
  • Remember to wear the appropriate foot wear.
  • Choose a safe route.
  • Carry your mobile device in case of any emergencies.
  • If you feel yourself falling while walking your dog, try to limit your injuries by bending your elbows and knees and attempt to roll versus reaching out with your hands and trying to catch yourself.