Dog walking provides regular exercise for many older adults. But the health benefits come with added injury risk according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study finds that fractures among dog walkers over the age of 65 more than doubled from 2004 to 2017.
According to the study, the most common fracture was the hip, followed by upper extremity injuries such as the wrist or upper arm. Physical therapy can help improve balance and strength through exercises that can improve the dog walking experience and lower risk of injury. Falls or injuries can happen with or without a pet, but the good news is that many can be prevented.
Here are a few tips to help prevent dog walking injuries:
• Wear the appropriate footwear for the terrain
• Stop wrapping the leash around fingers or wrist
• Never slide the fingers under the collar
• Keep the dog on a short leash
• Pay attention
• Consider enrolling in a strength training class
• Take an obedience class
The study doesn’t mean older people should surrender their pets to the shelter, nor does this mean sitting on the couch all day is a good idea. It does mean seniors should be extra cautious when walking a leashed pet.
Kevin Pirruccio, Yeo Myoung Yoon, Jaimo Ahn. Fractures in Elderly Americans Associated With Walking Leashed Dogs. JAMA Surgery, 2019; DOI: 10.1001/jamasurg.2019.0061