Perks and Pit'falls' of Owning a Dog

 Looking for the fountain of youth? Get a dog! A recent study published in Preventive Medicine shares that dog owners over the age of 65 can turn back the clock by as much as 10 years.

Advantages of Owning a Dog

Your furry friend may help:

  • Prevent depression
  • Avoid loneliness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Calm heart rates

And, a study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found that dog owners over the age of 65:

  • Had the same activity levels equal to people 10 years younger
  • Showed much lower levels of depression and anxiety
  • On average, were 12% more active than people without a dog

But, do pets cause falls?

 Do you trip over Fido?

In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control found that in a year, more than 86,000 Americans went to the ER because of a fall linked to a pet.  And these were mostly from dogs. 

If you’re thinking about getting a dog, or if you already have a furry companion, here are a few tips to help reduce your risk of falling:

  • Keep your dog’s food bowls and toys out of walking paths in your house.
  • Place a bell on your dog’s collar so you know when your pet is nearby.
  • Use two hands to hold the leash (for support) when walking your dog.
  • If your dog is big and likes to jump on you, try pet obedience classes so you don’t get knocked over.

When does a fall need medical attention?

There are no hard and fast rules for knowing when to get care after a fall. But here are some things to think about:

  • Was it a soft or hard landing?
  • Were you able to get up without help?
  • Are you wounded? Bruising? Bleeding?

If there is pain or bleeding that doesn't stop right away, you should call 911.

Lastly, make sure you tell your doctor about any falls at your next visit.  Also bring up if you felt faint or dizzy before the fall.

Most recent update: 1/4/2018

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