Elderly couple hiking with dog

A dog is often called man’s best friend…

but sometimes your dog can hurt you in ways you might not expect. Already this year we have seen several patients come into Washington Orthopaedic Center as a result of injuries caused by their own dog.

One woman was walking across the road with her dog. Traffic was coming, and as she hurried to get onto the curb, her dog got spooked, and she tripped on the curb. As she held onto the leash, she was unable to break her fall effectively and fell down fracturing her elbow.

Another injury happened when a woman got out of bed at night and stepped on her small dog resting on the floor in the dark. She tried to hoist her leg up and over the dog, lost her balance and fell fracturing her hip.

Another episode occurred when a patient was out for a walk with his dog. Another dog walked by, and his dog lunged for other unexpectedly, perhaps trying to protect his owner. The man was unprepared and fell forward onto his outstretched wrist, suffering a displaced wrist fracture.

People who are older or who have osteoporosis are especially vulnerable to breaking their bones in a fall, but some of these patients were quite young. People, young and old can be susceptible to an unexpected fall when their attention is divided between more than one thing. This can happen when dogs are young or are not well-trained.

This is certainly NOT a recommendation against owning dogs.

In fact, the necessity to give a dog their daily walk can be a great impetus for an owner to stay active himself. And regular exercise actually leads to a better behaved and happy dog. And there is ample evidence that dogs can provide safety, support and comfort to dog owners

So what can you do to avoid an unexpected fall with your pooch?

Stay active so that you are strong and agile enough to control your dog. Go to training classes, or take measures to make sure your dog is obedient and well behaved. Be careful not to allow the leash to become tangled around your legs. And be especially vigilant around other dogs and on uneven ground. Inside the house, make sure there is adequate lighting and that doggie toys are not left where they might be a hazard.

Love your pooch and provide good training. Paying careful attention to your surroundings and sometimes just avoiding danger situations will make your summer a lot safer!

Content provided by Dr. Keith Anderson