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The Dangers of Dog Walking for the Elderly

By Chris Brown

Dog ownership in old age has the proven benefits of improving one's quality of life, happiness, and longevity. Researchers of one study found that heart attack survivors who lived alone with a dog had a 33 percent lower risk of death than those without a dog to keep them company. However, there are some oft-forgotten dangers of dog care that can be particularly treacherous for the elderly. One common danger, in particular, is a necessary action for the health of most dogs: regular dog walking. Dog walking can present a real danger to the elderly, who may already be unsteady on their feet.

Walking the Dog Leads to Significant Elderly Injuries

It only takes a squirrel or stray tennis ball to set off a dog's natural chase instinct and a potentially injurious yank of the leash. One awkward leash pull can destabilize an older individual, leading to broken bones and decreased mobility. In fact, a data study of 100 emergency rooms in the United States found that dog walking was an increasingly prevalent cause of fractures in older individuals. Of the dog-related breaks, 17 percent were broken hips, which are particularly troublesome for the overall health of the elderly. In fact, one-third of adults over 50-years-old die within 12 months of a hip fracture, according to data gathered from over 122-thousand participants from Europe and the U.S.

How to Minimize Your Dog Walking Risk

The risks of dog walking can be minimized with obedience training. Smaller dog breeds also are safer as their lower weight reduces the pull on the leash. Many small dogs, however, can be more difficult to train than some larger breeds. If the fear or risk of a fall is too great, one may consider hiring a dog walking service. Professional dog walkers are experts at giving dogs the exercise they need while eliminating all possibility of a fall incident by the owner. However, for many elderly individuals, the benefits of the exercise obtained from dog walking outweighs the risk of a fall.


Mobility is highly important for overall health. Keeping active into old age by walking a dog is a great way to maintain regular movement. However, dog walking can be a gamble every time, as a single fall can counterproductively lead to long-term immobility -- immobility that may begin a chain reaction of health problems and mental decline.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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