Walking a dog on a leash can cause serious injuries in adults, including brain damage, according to a study.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the second most common injury in adults, Johns Hopkins researchers have found.
The other most common injuries were finger fractures and shoulder sprains or strains.
The study shows that people aged 65 and over are more likely than other age groups to suffer serious injuries – more than three times as likely to fall and more than twice as likely to break a bone.
The researchers also found that women who were injured while walking their dogs were 50 percent more likely than men to suffer a fracture.
The most frequent injuries were falls due to patients being pulled, entangled, or tripped by a dog on a leash.
The 20-year study noted a large increase in injuries during that time period, which the researchers believe may be due to an increase in dog owners.
“We also strongly encourage people to keep their dogs on leashes”
The team hopes its findings will raise awareness among dog owners and encourage doctors to discuss possible injuries associated with dog walking.
Senior author Edward McFarlane said: “Clinicians should be aware of these risks and communicate them to patients, especially women and older adults.
“We encourage clinicians to screen for pet ownership, assess fracture and fall risk, and discuss safe dog-walking practices during regular health maintenance visits with these vulnerable populations.
“Despite our findings, we also strongly encourage people to keep their dogs on a leash wherever it is required by law.”
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Ridge Maxson, lead author of the study, added: “Dog ownership has also increased significantly in recent years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While dog walking is an everyday activity for many adults, few studies describe its burden of injury. We believe that more comprehensive information on such events is needed.”
The study was published in the National Library of Medicine.