March 26, 2009 / 9:36 PM / 10 years ago

Pet lovers beware: Cats, dogs are tripping hazards

Eunae, a 2-and-a-half-year-old female dog poses for a photograph with her breeder Park Jong-hwa in a field at Park's breeding farm for the Korean Jindo dog in Gwacheon, south of Seoul May 29, 2008. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Roughly 240 Americans wind up in emergency rooms every day for sprains, fractures or other injuries from a fall caused by a dog or cat, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said dogs and cats account for 88 percent of all fall-related injuries in emergency departments.

Nearly 8 million people are treated in the emergency room each year for falls, and the CDC researchers wanted to know how many of them were caused by pets.

They searched five years of emergency room data on injuries from a national sample of hospitals in the United States. They looked for fall-related injuries using search terms like pet, dog, cat, puppy or kitten.

Overall, dogs or cats cause an estimated 86,600 falls per year, the CDC said in its weekly report on death and disease.

Women are 2.1 times more likely to have a pet-related fall than men, they said.

Tripping seems to be the biggest risk. About 31 percent of dog-related and 66 percent of cat-related injuries were caused by tripping. Another 21 percent of dog-related injuries occurred when people fell after being pushed or pulled by dogs.

The CDC said pet owners need to be aware that their furry friends can cause accidents. They recommended pet obedience training to reduce fall-related injuries.

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