The new research was led by Kevin Pirruccio, a second-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania.
After reviewing injury surveillance database for patients 65 or older at about 100 US emergency departments, researches of the University of Pennsylvania found that fracture injuries associated with leashed dogs walking have increased significantly from 1,671 cases in 2004 to 4,396 in 2017, representing a 163 percent increase, which was higher than fractures from other types of activities.
The dog-walking fractures were reported in a public database published by the U.S. Consumer Products Commission, which records injuries reported from about 100 emergency rooms nationwide. It's also "a popular and frequently recommended activity for many older Americans seeking new ways to stay active", he said. The study authors warned that this type of fracture is linked to long-term decreases in functional capabilities, quality of life, and mortality rates approaching 30 percent. That may be because frailer people are more likely to fall, he said.
Experts say older dog owners should take special care to train their best friends or choose smaller breeds. Dog training is also important, he said.
Susan Bush, 69, told the Associated Press that she has had several injuries from falls while walking her dogs. The worst happened three years ago, while putting her leashed shepherd mix, Piper, on the porch of her Pocono Pines, Pa., cottage just as a bear came out of the woods.
Bush fell on her right hip "and my femur just snapped", she said. "I can't go upstairs without a cane".
However, the study noted that the little-known risk associated with pet ownership shouldn't be ignored, particularly for older people.
Dr. Ahn said we should always consider both the risks and benefits of the physical activity as we get older.