Pets bring all sorts of benefits to the home, but tripping over the cat or dog or their toys or water bowls sends thousands of Americans to the emergency room each year. In fact, pet-related falls account for no less than 86,629 ER visits a year, or 240 trips a day, and roughly 1 per cent of the 8 million visits for falls of all sorts.

The stats come from researchers at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (at 8 million a year, falls are definitely in the epidemic category) and represent the first known national estimate of falls caused by pets and their paraphernalia. About one-third of the falls broke bones, while others caused bruises, sprains or cuts. Most of the tumbles occurred at home.

Dogs were the main culprits, causing 88 per cent of falls, with cats a long way behind at 12 per cent. Children and older people were most vulnerable, and women were more likely to be injured than men, being almost equally at risk from dogs and cats.

Here are the main risk situations in order of frequency: tripping over the dog or cat; taking the dog for a walk; being pulled by a dog; chasing the cat; running away from the dog; and breaking up a dog fight. As with humans, obedience training for dogs is highly recommended as a way of minimising risks. As for cats, you probably just have to keep your eyes peeled. ~ Washington Post, Mar 27

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet