The Ruff Report: Dogs and Safety

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Living room item a leading cause of pet injuries

Every living room has one, and many people, as well as their dogs and cats, have a special affinity for this popular item.

This common household item is safe for people, but many pet parents are unaware that it is a leading cause of injury for dogs and cats. It is your couch, and dogs and cats love to repeatedly hop on and off it.

Accidents from jumps and falls involving household furniture, especially the couch and bed, is a leading cause for pets to break bones, according to a study by Veterinary Pet Insurance. These accidents account for a whopping 40 percent of broken bones.

VPI veterinarian Carol McConnell says pet parents need to create safe conditions for their dogs and cats. “Injury prevention includes careful management of a pet’s environment by removing possible threats and eliminating situations that might put a pet at risk," she states in a media release.

Accidents involving moving vehicles also account for 40 percent of broken bones in pets, the study found.Restraining pets is the best way to prevent accidents or injuries caused by moving vehicles, Dr. McConnell says. "Pets should be kept on a leash at all times while away from home. If a pet has a tendency to bolt out the door and into the street, the pet should be desensitized to open doors or restricted to a safe area by a fence or baby gate.”

The other causes for pets breaking bones on VPI's top-10 list are: Fight with another pet or animal, fourth; running and slipping, fifth; hit or struck with an object, sixth; caught in or between an object, seventh; running into an object, eighth; being stepped on, ninth; injured in car accident, 10.

VPI compiled the list from its claims by policyholders in 2008. It received more than 5,000 claims for fractures.

Most fractures involved breaks to the humerus, femur, radius, ulna and tibia. The most common treatment of these breaks, surgical implantation of an orthopedic plate, had an average submitted claim fee of $1,500.

The most expensive claims for broken bones were submitted for surgical treatment of a broken pelvis or vertebrae. Breaks to the pelvis or vertebrae that required pins, wires or screws had an average submitted claim fee of $2,400, and breaks that required an orthopedic plate had an average submitted claim fee of $2,600.

“Broken bones are painful for pets and costly for pet owners,” Dr. Carol McConnell said.