- New analysis suggests thousands of serious hand injuries across the UK each year could be caused by dog leads and collars
- Hand surgeons advise on how to use dog collars and leads safely to prevent hand fractures, ligament and tissue damage
Around 12 million adults in the UK (24% of the adult population) own a dog . With analysis of hand clinic referral figures from Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust showing there were 30 serious hand injuries caused by dog lead or collar misuse in just one year, there are a huge number of people across the UK who could be experiencing serious but simply avoided hand injuries.
The hand injuries were largely caused by the sudden movement of a dog after owners had wrapped the lead around their wrist, hand or fingers, or hooked their fingers under the dog’s collar. The abrupt force can cause friction burns and tissue loss, as well as fractures and ligament injuries.
The British Society for Surgery of the Hand also warns that catching a lunging or twisting dog by hooking your fingers under its collar can cause serious finger injuries, including fractures. Even with expert medical care, these injuries can cause long-term stiffness and loss of function.
To help dog owners avoid injury, the British Society for Surgery of the Hand has the following simple tips:
- Avoid hooking your fingers under your dog’s collar: use a collar or harness with a grab handle instead
- Don’t wind the lead around your hand: instead, use retractable leads, which offer the flexibility to give your dog space to wander ahead when safe to do so, while allowing you to keep the leash short when you need control
- Larger breeds of dog should always be kept on a shorter lead, to avoid them building up speed that can cause a wrenching force on your hand if they come to an abrupt stop
- Remember that the retractable leads can also wrap around yours or others legs or around obstacles such as street furniture or trees, so should only be used in open spaces
Mrs Rebecca Dunlop, Consultant Surgeon from the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, said:
“Dogs have a wide range of health benefits for their owners, including reducing stress and helping people stay active. But having seen many serious injuries caused by dog leads and collars, I want dog lovers to be aware of the simple steps they can take to avoid severe damage to their hand.”
“Hand injuries can be very costly for patients and the NHS – especially through time off work and medical costs. We want to ensure that dog owners are able to carry on enjoying time with their dogs without risking damage to their hand and time in hospital.”