Health Cast: Good Dog. Bad Break.


More than 86-thousand fall injuries associated with cats and dogs occur each year, and of that number nearly 88 percent were from dogs. All of us — especially the 43 million American households with dogs — know about the benefits our four-legged friends bring us. But dog ownership is not without some bumps and bruises and cuts. According to orthopedic surgeons, there’s an increase in fractures, sprains and breaks to hands, wrists and elbows.

She’s only three, but Sunny is a 60-pound package of energy.

Owner Michelle Steinman said, “We wanted her to be a couch potato kind of dog.”

They can laugh now when they’re loving their perky pup, but Dan and Michelle Steinman cried when Sunny broke their fingers … yes, both of them.

Michelle said, “It was the same finger but a totally different injury. She pulled the leash and it went this way and my finger, I guess it snapped like a piece of chalk.”

Dan said, “I heard my finger snap and I had such pain I’d never had before.”

John Fernandez, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Rush University Medical Center, said, “Sometimes if the dog isn’t easy to control, your first instinct is to put your fingers under that collar. That’s the worst place to be because that dog now controls you.”

Doctor Fernandez’s first and foremost suggestion: no retractable leashes.

“Because if something suddenly happens, now the dog is on this 10-foot/20-foot leash that gives it a lot more kinetic energy,” he said.

Other dog-walking faux-“paws”: don’t walk and roll. Don’t wear flip flops, or go barefoot, and don’t wrap the leash around your hand or wrist.

“If the dog suddenly bolts off in a different direction you actually have less control because now you’re being pulled like a ragdoll,” Fernandez explained.

Michelle said, “So you’re supposed to hold the dog’s leash like this and wrap your fingers around in case the dog gets loose the dog will not hurt you. It’s better the dog than you, they say.”

Or nobody at all.

Doctor Fernandez says one of the biggest mistakes people make is delaying getting an injury checked out. Just because they can still bend a finger a little, they don’t think it’s a serious injury. But, he says, it can still be dislocated, and if you wait too long to go to the doctor, what could’ve been a minor fix could now require surgery because it has already started healing incorrectly.

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