- Reviewed by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
Being a dog owner has many health benefits, like unconditional love, companionship, and increased physical activity required to play with and walk your pet. But be careful when you take Fido for daily strolls. A study published online April 14, 2023, by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise ties dog walking to a sharp rise in injuries among people holding the leash of a peppy pup. Researchers analyzed information in a national health database from 2001 to 2020 and identified almost 423,000 people (average age 53) who went to emergency departments after being pulled or tripped by a leash. The annual number of injuries increased by more than four times during the study period, from about 7,200 in 2001 to about 32,000 in 2020. Dog walkers most commonly suffered broken fingers, shoulder sprains, and traumatic brain injuries. The study authors urged dog walkers to use retractable or short leashes and, while walking, to pay close attention to their pets, stay aware of the surroundings, and avoid distractions for both themselves (such as texting) and their dogs (such as busy areas that might inspire a leashed pooch to take off running).
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
About the Reviewer
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
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