Prat, er, pet falls

Posted on March 26th, 2009 – 11:53 AM
By Josephine Marcotty

Falls associated with pets have never been addressed in the scientific literature. (Okay, there was one small study.) But today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have  corrected that omission. It turns out that an average of 86,629 falls a year are caused by pets.

You know what kind of pet we’re talking about.


Yes, the dog. The vast majority of pet falls, 88 percent, happened when owners were either pushed or pulled to the ground by their dogs. Or they tripped over them. Cats caused the rest.  Mostly people either tripped over their cats or fell while chasing them. You can read the whole thing published today in excruciating detail here.

Women were twice as likely to be injured as men.

Pet falls were still only a fraction of all falls, about one percent of the tumbles that send about 8 million people a year to the emergency room. But the researchers said that since 43 million households have dogs, and 37.5 million own cats, this is a public health problem.

What’s the solution?

“The development of more effective prevention strategies will require more information about the risks for fiall injury associated with specific pets (including size and breed) and put-human interactions,” they said.

Clearly, a whole new field of public health research awaits.

In the meantime, they recommend — more training! Of course, I’ve never quite figured out if obedience training is for dogs or people. It worked better on me than on my now deceased but beloved ox of a Labrador retriever. I was the one with skinned knees.

What are your pet fall stories?

27 Responses to "Prat, er, pet falls"

SK77 says:

March 26th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I have two cats and they each have a collar with a bell on it, otherwise it would be hard at times to know where they are. I will say in the mornings when I am not so awake they cross in front of me and I have almost fell or at worse stepped on them, usually that wakes both of us up.

Steve says:

March 26th, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Cats tend to be nocturnal, while most people are not. While navigating to the bathroom at 2 AM, my clever little felines started darting in and out around my feet. I tried to tap dance around them, and proceeded to body-slam myself into the floor. I hit the dirt with the right side of my hand, fracturing three knuckles. Their sentence? – No treats today. Mine? – six weeks in a cast. I’ve forgiven them.

TomK says:

March 26th, 2009 at 2:45 pm

My brother once went to step over my dog that was laying down, the dog was startled and jumped up, causing my brother to stumble and broke his toe. I told him to walk around next time!

oie says:

March 26th, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Oh ooooo this means insurance will go up for anyone owning pets!

Dilbert says:

March 26th, 2009 at 2:51 pm

I prefer outside Dogs. But even inside, they can be taught to stay away from stairs (which not only compound the risk, but are more likely to result in severe injury). OK, I’ve stepped on cat tails when they start that between the feet zig-zag, they figure out quick to stay out from between my feet. Also keep them out of bedrooms. Then again, I’m one who drives using the ‘Lunch rule’ – if you could eat it for lunch, just keep driving, I might swerve for Deer, Moose, or Bears – but not into oncoming traffic. Squirrels, cats, and small dogs better move ’cause I won’t.
Seriously, crate train your dogs, they’ll be more secure too.

Former owner says:

March 26th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

During a snowstorm in early 2002, I had to carry my two-year-old son on my back while I walked our very large and powerful German Shepherd puppy. The combination of factors did not work well that night and the dog won, pulling the child and me across the ice after he pulled us down and we fell. This last incident convinced me to give him up, with the caveat that if he was not adopted to a family with a fenced yard where he could play, I would take him back.

Josephine Marcotty says:

March 26th, 2009 at 3:11 pm

TomK, I know — it’s not the dog’s fault! Ever! That’s what I tell my husband when he trips over ours. JM

KJ says:

March 26th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I swear, my cat intentionally tries to trip me, expecially in the morning when he wants to be fed. How do they know just the right time to stop when running in front of me causing me to put a skip in my step so that I don’t run into him. You would think I would smarten up to that but after 10 years, he still gets me each morning.

Karla Dinger says:

March 26th, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I was standing in the garage with my female german shepherd on a leash. She wrapped around my ankles and took off quickly after a squirrel or something. I went down face first on the garage floor and split open my chin. I’m 62 yrs old. My face bled for 24 hours. I had to go to work as an ER registration clerk that day with that starting to bleed again every so often. Not a good sight for a ER registration clerk.
Why does it always seem to be german shepherds?

TIM says:

March 26th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I have a pug and trip over him probably 5 times a day. They weren’t lying when I researched pugs and they said pugs are at your feet constantly.

Shielen says:

March 26th, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I have been taken down by my dog serveral times. Same with Kitties. Solution- do not be so careful people. Just step on them, and they will learn to move out of the way real quick.

Lauren says:

March 26th, 2009 at 3:46 pm

We recently adopted a dog that had been in a no kill shelter for 16 months of her two years of life. I am pretty sure that each family member now has one arm longer then the other from taking her on walks!

We are currently working on leash training and coming to us when called! My mantra? I am the alpha, I am the alpha! Am I the alpha?!

Vicki says:

March 26th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

I have had dogs mywhole life. I am now 87 and still walk my dog. I have never fallen because of the dogs, but have fallen six times recently. I think the dog helps me stay stable.

CJ says:

March 26th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

People get knocked over by dogs all the time at the Elm Creek dog park. Usually nobody gets hurt. I’ve been knocked over countless times by playing dogs.

Marie says:

March 26th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

How many falls annually are caused by children?

JAP says:

March 26th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Great another excuse for insurance companies to raise rates on people.

BA says:

March 26th, 2009 at 5:35 pm

I have several labs. I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night and fallen over them. Startling for them and startling for me. But I’d never give them up.

Namakogin says:

March 26th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

“Women were twice as likely to be injured as men.” Looks like dogs really are man’s best friend. Maybe dogs have the greater propensity to just “be in the way” of women.

Mike from Iowa says:

March 26th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

I have a golden retriever who camps in the dark(at night) room between my kitchen and living room. When in a hurry during a big game I have been tripped several times on the way to the kitchen. A couple of times I flew towards the kitchen and very nearly broke my neck on the kitchen table. I carry a flashlight and yell when coming through now.

Sconnie says:

March 26th, 2009 at 9:03 pm

The family dog (a medium-sized beagle/Australian shepherd mix) took off after a squirrel in our own backyard. My mom was holding his leash and was caught off-guard. She fell and landed on an exposed tree root, which broke her collarbone. She had to take off work for the entire summer while her collarbone healed.

Sue says:

March 27th, 2009 at 6:57 am

I have fallen twice due to dogs, the most recent was when my neighbor’s golden retriever was playing with my yellow lab. As they were running around the golden retriever ran into me from behind causing me to fall and sprain my ankle. Noone’s fault but my own for not paying attention.

The other time, I was approximately 4 years old and a german shepherd, who was untended and running loose in our neighborhood, pushed me down and bit me several times. I required stiches on my face and neck. The dog no longer ran loose after that.

Susan says:

March 27th, 2009 at 8:15 am

During dog traininng classes for my labradors, the trainers asked us to teach the dogs to get up and get out of the way whenever a person walked towards them. I did not make the effort to teach this to the dogs because I didn’t understand its importance. Now I do understand, having nearly falled over them several times. The dogs are over 12, so it is too late to teach them. However, in the future I will teach this to my dogs.

Mary says:

March 27th, 2009 at 8:27 am

I was biking and a small dog (not mine) ran under my bike. I attempted to stop and fell causing a broken collar bone and fractured hip. The dog was fine.

JF says:

March 27th, 2009 at 11:07 am

Prong collars are a safe and very effective tool for walking strong dogs. Our german shepherd “puppy” weighs in at 55 pounds. The prong collar reduced the his pulling force by about 70%.

Daphne3620 says:

March 27th, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Oh my!! So been here done that! Manic Siamese-Tabby mix sent me down a flight of stairs to a resounding *CRACK!* You haven’t lived til you have broken your Coccyx! Ugh! Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy! I spent almost a year miserable as the silly thing healed. Luckily it’s been about 10 years and I have pretty much forgiven him! ; ) Naw .. I forgave him right away.. he kept meowing and headbutting me as I was laying in the entry way screaming for my husband. “Sorry Mom!! Sorry!!”

Brucifer says:

March 27th, 2009 at 3:34 pm

This needs to stop! Dogs and cats should be banned as hazzards to public safety! Close down the pet shows and the pet stores! Regulate the sale of catnip and rawhide chew toys! “If it saves just one child!”

Sherri W says:

April 6th, 2009 at 8:20 am

While walking my dog one day, at a fast pace. We walked by a couple of neighbors who spoke to me. When the guy spoke, my dog, Yogi got spooked and stepped right in front of me. I went down as though I had never walked my dog before in our lifetime. It was quite embarrassing, but I got right back up and walked even faster than before!