The perils of pet ownership: a new fall-injury risk factor

Susan E Kurrle, Robert Day and Ian D Cameron
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (11): 682-683.


Objective: To describe fall-related injuries due to pets in an older population.

Design: Case series.

Participants and setting: Patients aged 75 years and over presenting to the emergency department of a metropolitan hospital in northern Sydney over 18 months, with a fracture directly related to their pet.

Main outcome measures: Type of fracture; circumstances of injury.

Results: 16 cases (mean patient age, 81 years) are described; 13 (81%) involved women. Animals of five species were involved, with cats and dogs being the most common pet hazard.

Conclusions: Pets are a potential environmental hazard in the occurrence of fall-related injuries in older people, with dogs and cats most likely to be involved. Women appear more likely than men to be injured.

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  • Susan E Kurrle1
  • Robert Day2
  • Ian D Cameron3

  • 1 Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Health Service, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

None identified.

  • 1. Headey B. Pet ownership: good for health? [editorial]. Med J Aust 2003; 179: 460-461. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Nair BR, Flynn B. Pet owners and risk factors in cardiovascular disease [letter]. Med J Aust 2004; 180: 144. <MJA full text>
  • 3. Guideline for the prevention of falls in older persons. American Geriatrics Society, British Geriatrics Society, and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Panel on Falls Prevention. J Am Geriat Soc 2001; 49: 664-672.
  • 4. Clemson L, Roland M, Cumming RG. Types of hazards in the homes of elderly people. Occupat Ther J Res 1997; 17: 200-213.
  • 5. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian social trends 1995. Culture and leisure. Special feature: household pets. Canberra: ABS, 2002. Available at: (accessed Sep 2004).


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