ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Healthy adults have potential autoimmune disease-causing cells
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
CANCER
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
As Earth Warms, Lyme Disease Could Flourish
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
EYE CARE, VISION
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
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For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too

THURSDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Dogs and cats may be favored companions of many Americans, but they're also apparently the cause of falls that results in thousands of injuries each year.

U.S. health officials report that 86,629 people annually are injured in dog- and cat-related falls. That's 240 people a day who wind up in hospital emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I get asked a lot if pets are a fall hazard," said Judy Stevens, a senior epidemiologist at the CDC and first author of the report. "We found that of the 8 million falls from all causes, about 1 percent were related to cats and dogs."

Acknowledging that pets provide benefits, too, Stevens said that the CDC wanted to make people aware that they can be a fall hazard, and the benefits need to be balanced with these risks.

Pets have been linked in several studies to a variety of health benefits, including help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety and increasing opportunities for socializing.

In 2006, an estimated 43 million U.S. households included dogs, and 37.5 million households had cats. In addition, almost 64 percent of households with pets had more than one pet, according to the report, published in the March 27 issue of the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For the study, Stevens and her colleagues collected data on falls from 66 emergency departments across the country from 2001 to 2006. Dogs accounted for 88 percent of the injuries from falls and cats for nearly all of the rest.

Among people injured by dogs, 31 percent tripped over the dog, and 21 percent fell after being pushed or pulled by a dog. Among injuries involving cats, 66 percent were attributed to falling or tripping over the animal.

Women were twice as likely to be injured as men. Those most often injured were either younger than 14 years or between 35 and 54 years old, the researchers found. However, the highest rate of fractures occurred in people 75 to 85 years old. Of people who required hospitalization from a pet-related injury, about 80 percent had a broken bone.

Most falls involving dogs, 62 percent, occurred at home; 16 percent happened in a street or a park. Pet paraphernalia was cited as the cause of about 9 percent of the falls at home.

As for cats, 86 percent of falls involving felines happened in the home, 17 percent of them while chasing the cat.

One way to reduce the risk for dog-related falls, Stevens said, would be to enroll a dog in obedience training, which should be able to stop, or at least lessen, the animal's pushing, pulling and jumping.

"You can also prevent falls by removing tripping hazards like pet items," she said.

Colin Milner, chief executive of the International Council on Active Aging, said that keeping fit as you age should also help reduce the likelihood of falls.

People need to keep their homes clean and uncluttered, he said. And, when picking a pet, Milner suggested trying to match the pet to your personality and, perhaps, choosing a more mellow rather than a more excitable pet.

One reason people fall is that they become less coordinated as they age, Milner said. "Many of these fall could be preventable if you had better balance," he said. "The number of falls could be reduced with a very simple balance and strength-training program."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have more on preventing injury.



SOURCES: Judy Stevens, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Colin Milner, CEO, International Council on Active Aging, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; March 27, 2009, CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Last Updated: March 26, 2009

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