CHICAGO, IL. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than 86-thousand fall injuries associated with cats and dogs occur each year, and of that number nearly 88 percent were from dogs. All of us … especially the 43 million American households with dogs … know about the benefits our four-legged friends bring us. But dog ownership is not without some bumps … and bruises … and cuts. According to orthopedic surgeons, there’s an increase in fractures, sprains and breaks to hands, wrists and elbows.
She’s only three, but Sunny is a 60-pound package of energy.
Owner Michelle Steinman said, “We wanted her to be a couch potato kind of dog.”
They can laugh now when they’re loving their perky pup, but Dan and Michelle Steinman cried when Sunny broke their fingers … yes, both of them.
Michelle told Ivanhoe, “It was the same finger but a totally different injury. She pulled the leash and it went this way and my finger, I guess it snapped like a piece of chalk.”
Dan said, “I heard my finger snap and I had such pain I’d never had before.”
John Fernandez, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Rush University Medical Center, said, “Sometimes if the dog isn’t easy to control, your first instinct is to put your fingers under that collar. That’s the worst place to be because that dog now controls you.”
Doctor Fernandez’s first and foremost suggestion: no retractable leashes.
“Because if something suddenly happens, now the dog is on this 10-foot/20-foot leash that gives it a lot more kinetic energy,” he said.
Other dog-walking faux-“paws”: don’t walk and roll. Don’t wear flip flops, or go barefoot, and don’t wrap the leash around your hand or wrist.
“If the dog suddenly bolts off in a different direction you actually have less control because now you’re being pulled like a ragdoll,” Fernandez explained.
Michelle said, “So you’re supposed to hold the dog’s leash like this and wrap your fingers around in case the dog gets loose the dog will not hurt you. It’s better the dog than you, they say.”
Or nobody at all.
Doctor Fernandez says one of the biggest mistakes people make is delaying getting an injury checked out. Just because they can still bend a finger a little, they don’t think it’s a serious injury. But, he says, it can still be dislocated, and if you wait too long to go to the doctor, what could’ve been a minor fix could now require surgery because it has already started healing incorrectly.
Contributors to this news report include: Jessica Sanchez, Field Producer; Tony D’Astoli, Videographer; and Jamie Koczan, Editor.
GOOD DOG, BAD BREAK: DOG WALKING INJURIES ON THE RISE
BACKGROUND: Dog walking injuries happen much more frequently than we’d expect them to. Mark Cohen, MD, at Rush University Medical Center claims that dog walking injuries could potentially be catastrophic and cause a lot of physical harm on the dog walker. Cohen is a hand, wrist and elbow surgeon at Rush and confirms that with all the excessive force of the dog, one can really get hurt. Doctor Cohen and his colleague John Fernandez, MD, frequently see dog walking/dog handling injuries in their practice- everything from severe finger and wrist fractures to dislocations and ruptured tendons. Cohen and Fernandez offer six strategies on how to keep you safe from any further dog-walking injuries. First, don’t wrap the leash around your fingers or wrist. Though it may seem safer this way, it can actually cause the most damage. If the dog were to take off, you don’t have time to take off or un-wrap the leash, which means that you’ve probably already fallen down or have suffered some sort of fracture. These also tend to be nasty injuries because the leash twists your skin which can cause the bones to separate, or cause tendon, cartilage and ligament damage. Some people might even need surgery to recover from such a painful injury which can take months or years to recover from. That’s why doctors suggest holding the leash in the palm of your hand, that way you have more control over the dog. Secondly, he advises to never place your finger underneath the dog’s collar because it is possible to suffer from similar injuries as when you’re walking the dog with a leash. Fernandez advises to never grab the dog’s collar when separating them from another dog, because due to the aggressiveness you can easily injure your finger that way. In addition, the doctors advise people to use shorter leashes because with longer leashes, there is more for the dog to pull. This could cause the dog walker to fall causing bruises and fractures. A shorter leash allows for more control over the dog reducing the risk of falling or tripping over the longer leash as well. Cohen’s next strategy is to always walk without rolling, meaning don’t ride your bike, scooter, skateboard, or Segway. Remain grounded because if the dog bolts when you’re already off balance, then you’re much more likely to suffer an injury. Dr. Cohen also instructs dog walkers to wear the proper shoes when walking their dogs. Avoid wearing heels, wedges, flip flops, sandals, or any type of shoe that could put you at risk of getting an injury. He also notes to be mindful of the weather whether it’s icy, snowing, or raining to know what’s safest to wear. Lastly, Dr. Cohen and Dr. Rodriguez advise dog walkers to simply pay attention. With that being said, avoid using your cell phones, don’t wear headphones, scan the area for anything that could potentially frighten your dog, and avoid any terrain that’s difficult to walk on.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR? If you suffer from a dog walking injury, don’t ignore it, but instead do something about it. When you get home, it’s suggested to apply ice on the injury for 10 minutes. But if you still have significant pain and swelling, or it hurts when you press on the injured area, or you don’t have full range of motion then you should seek medical help. Even if your symptoms get better, if you still feel pain after one or two weeks, it’s best to go see your doctor. As Doctor Cohen says, “Don’t assume that just because the injury was caused by a dog that it can’t be serious.”
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