It once seemed common sense to believe that having and walking a dog was good for older people. Dogs are great companions and provide a healthy excuse to go for a walk and get a bit of exercise. However, new research shows that taking the dog for a walk can have its downsides for seniors. A report published in the American medical journal 'JAMA Surgery' says injuries among seniors related to dog-walking are becoming increasingly prevalent. From 2004 to 2017, researchers calculated that there were over 32,000 cases of people in the USA aged 65 and over suffering fractures attributed to walking their dog. Some of the injuries were serious and required the senior to undergo emergency surgery.
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The researchers advised the elderly to consider the possible dangers to owning and walking a dog. They said: "For older adults - especially those living alone and with decreased bone mineral density - the risks associated with walking leashed dogs merit consideration." They added: "Even one injury could result in a potentially lethal hip fracture, lifelong complications, or the loss of their independence." Lead researcher Dr Jaimo Ahn blamed what he termed as a "small person/big dog" scenario for many of the accidents. He said a dog is sometimes mismatched with its owner's inability and strength to handle it. One elderly dog owner said: "Old people need dogs. We need our soul mates."