How Dog Walking Injuries Are Increasing Among Older Adults
Dog walking helps you reach your exercise goals, but it may also increase the risk of injury, especially among older adults. During recent years, there has been a significant increase in people getting injured while walking their dogs. Dog ownership has been on the rise, and more and more older adults choose to live an active life, so it’s not uncommon to see a man or a woman going for a run with their pup’s leash wrapped around their wrist.
Sadly, broken wrists are some of the most common dog walking injuries, in addition to broken elbows and fractured hips. According to the University of Pennsylvania, adults, and especially women over the age of 65 are most at risk.
How to prevent dog pulling injuries
Dog leash injuries are incredibly common, and most pet owners don’t even realize it. Emergency rooms report various types of injuries that regularly occur during dog walking – from the severe wrist and finger fractures to dislocated shoulders and ruptured tendons.
Here are several tips on how to prevent dog pulling injuries:
Stop wrapping the leash
While it may seem that wrapping the leash around your fingers or your wrist may be a safer option than holding it in your hand, it’s quite the opposite.
If your dog suddenly takes off, it happens within seconds, and you have no time to unwrap the leash. By the time you even feel and realize something’s going on with the leash, you may have already suffered a fraction, or you may already be on the ground.
And keep in mind that those are not simple breaks, especially for older adults. Dog leash wrist injuries, as well as finger fractures, can be nasty. They often require an operation, and recovery can take a long time.
Never slide your fingers under the collar
Twisting your fingers under the collar as your dog jumps or pulls away may also cause severe injuries. Try grabbing the attachment ring instead of sliding your fingers under the collar, or try to pinch the collar at the edges. It may take some practice to get used to it, but both are much safer options.
You should also never grab the collar trying to separate your dog when he starts barking or growling at another dog, especially if they get close to each other. Dogs are much more aggressive in these situations, and you may end up getting bitten. If any of the dogs clamps around your finger, you may face horrible injuries.
It’s particularly important to pay attention if you’re handling a big, strong dog because they can generate great force, and they have powerful jaws. However, even smaller dogs can catch you off guard with a sudden movement, and it may lead to broken fingers.
Keep the dog on a short leash
When you keep your dog on a long leash, you give him much more space to explore, but you also give him time to start running and gain speed that he would never have if the leash were short. As a result, the dog may end up dragging you, or you may completely let go of the leash. Many people suffer shoulder pain after a dog pulling a leash, especially if the leash was too long. Shoulder injuries from dog walking are not uncommon, and they are best prevented by training your dog to walk on a short leash.
A short leash will give you more control over your dog, and you will have time to react and brace yourself the second a distraction comes up. A squirrel, another dog, a cat – you may encounter numerous distractions, and you should always be prepared to react on time. A short leash will help you with that.
Perhaps the most important tip of them all is always to pay attention to your dog when you’re out on a walk. If you’re present in the moment and not distracted by anything, you will always have time to react to various situations. You’ll never be caught completely off guard and that alone can prevent you from getting hurt.
Consider the following:
- Don’t text, engage in social media, take selfies, or talk on your phone
- Don’t wear headphones
- Keep your eyes on the surrounding area and scan it for any distractions
If you walk your dog properly, you won’t face hip pain from dog walking, lower back pain from dog pulling, or more severe dog walking injuries like fractures and dislocations. Make sure you use the lash properly and always to pay attention to your dog and the surroundings. Dog pulling injuries usually happen when the dog pulls unexpectedly, and the owner loses balance.
Wear the right shoes, keep your eyes on the surroundings, and enjoy breathing fresh air while bonding with your furry friend. Always be present at the moment – it is the best way to stay safe from injury.