Dog walks can be perilous for the elderly

If you're a dog lover you know how much that furry friend can do for you. There's compainionship, affection, love - and they force you to go for those walks.  

Here's the problem. For some, those walks can be risky. 

A simple dog walk can be pretty satisfying. But for the elderly a dog can also bring a trip to the emergency room, according to one recent study. It shows dog walking-related fractures are common in older people.

Cleveland Clinic's doctor Chad Deal says he sees, what he calls, a 'canine fracture' at least once a month. 

"The typical scenario would be walking the dog, the dog lunges at another dog, or the dog runs around some type of pole and the dog walker trips over the leash," Dr. Deal says. 

Researchers studied consumer product safety commission data from 2004 to 2017. They analyzed injury information for people 65 and older from about 100 hospital emergency departments. 

Results show fractures associated with walking a dog on a leash have increased significantly, most of them occurring in women. The article shows about 17 percent of fractures were hip fractures. Dr. Deal says this is significant because about 20 percent of women and 40 percent of men die within one year of suffering a hip fracture. 

Overall, upper extremity fractures - the wrist, arm and forearm - were most common.

Dr. Deal says many dog-related falls can be prevented if older people stay relatively fit, and maintain some general physical strength. 

"It really pays to have good balance, good, good, muscle strength - because a lot of times if the dog pulls and your muscles are healthy and they're strong, you can have countermeasures that prevent you from falling, so core strength and leg strength," Dr. Deal says.

You want to encourage dog walking; the activity is good for humans and the dogs. So muscle strength is important, and then after that having an obiedient dog helps, one that doesn't lunge, so a little training maybe needed.

Look into a harness if you have a dog that doesn't do well on a leash. 

And you can reduce risk by walking in a place that isn't filled with other dogs or distractions that might lead to a challenging walk.