CDC Analyzes Fall-Related Injury Data Caused by Dogs and Cats


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most nonfatal injuries in the US are caused by falls. Around eight million people were treated in the emergency room for injuries caused by falls in 2006 (the latest year for data). One area the CDC looked at was the number of people who were injured because of dogs or cats. The CDC report analyzed data received from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP), and found that just over 86,600 people a year suffer fall related injuries associated with cats and dogs. This is 29.7 per 100,000 injuries. Researchers also found 88% of these injuries were due to dogs, and females were more than twice as likely to be injured as males were. However, the researchers claim that there is not enough data to claim that pets present a fall hazard.

If you’ve ever spent time in the real world, and either seen people with their pets, or owned a cat or dog yourself, then you can probably rest assured there is more than enough data that pets present a fall hazard. Tripping over the cat that always seems to be asleep in the worst possible place or the dog that always seems to be under your feet is par for the course with pet owners. If you walk the dog, then you know that dogs tend to pull on the leash, sometimes when the person holding the other end of the leash least expects it.

Some of the notable quotes discovered by the researchers are:

  • The most common injuries are contusions, abrasions, and fractures
  • Fractures occurred most often to people ages 75 to 84
  • Nearly 80 percent of those hospitalized due to falls associated with dogs and cats were the result of fractures
  • A majority of falls occurred in or around the home
  • 16.4 percent of falls involving dogs occurred in the street or public place
  • 26 percent of falls with dogs occurred while the injured person was walking them
  • While over 85 percent of falls involving cats occurred in or around the home, 11.7 percent of the injuries were because someone was chasing the cat
  • Falling over a toy, food bowl, or other item accounted for 8.8 percent of injuries
  • As of 2006, 43 million US households owned dogs, and 37.5 million households owned cats; nearly 64 percent of households owned more than one pet

Researchers noted that as the age of the US population rises, so, too, does the number of households with dogs and cats. Because a majority of those injured in falls are generally part of an older age group, and the number of cats and dogs is increasing among this age group, the number of falls with injuries associated with this may also increase.