When you’re out in your neighborhood walking your dog, you probably don’t expect a trip to the ER with a hand injury.
But surgeons from many hospitals have reported a rise in friction burns, lacerations, ligament injuries, and fractures in the hand all due to the mishandling of dogs’ leashes and collars.
Here’s what you should know and how you can keep yourself safe.
Rise In Serious Injuries From Misuse Of Leashes And Collars
According to the British Society for the Surgery of the Hand (BSSH), incorrect usage of leashes and collars has contributed to many serious injuries among dog owners. The Royal Cornwall Hospital located at the southern tip of the United Kingdom reported they treated at least 30 serious hand injuries in the past year alone due to dog leash and collar misuse.
Jillian Tisdale was one of those patients who suffered an unfortunate accident. While walking one of her beloved Retrievers, a distraction from another dog caused her pup to run off unexpectedly.
This caused the leash to wrap around Jillian’s right hand and “de-glove” one of her middle fingers, which meant the skin and soft tissue was ripped off. She also suffered severe cuts in other areas of her hand, as well as a dislocated index finger. Surgeons had to amputate the top portion of her middle finger and skin graft the rest to repair the damage.
She stated later on, “I still can’t form a proper fist yet, and I’m continuing to do exercises to strengthen my hand.”
Rebecca Dunlop, a surgeon at Royal Cornwall Hospital, treated Jillian’s injuries and had started collecting data on hand injuries related to the mishandling of dog leashes and collars.
Dr. Dunlop stated, “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.”
Ways To Avoid These Types Of Injuries
The first thing to remember is not to wrap or coil your dog’s leash around your hand or wrist. Instead, loop the strap around your wrist and grip the lead comfortably. This will prevent the leash from tightening around your hand and wrist if your dog suddenly takes off while still letting you hold on and maintain control.
Use a shorter leash. With a long leash, your dog might be able to pick up momentum if they run off unexpectedly. This type of jolt can cause tendon and ligament damage to the hand that is holding the leash and can even lead you to fall on your face.
Don’t place your fingers under your dog’s collar. Make sure to pinch the edges of the collar or even the attachment ring when you’re trying to fasten their leash. Placing your fingers under the collar can lead to finger dislocations or even fractures if your dog does not sit still or even abruptly turns their head.
Obedience class or dog training is also helpful for your pup so they learn not to sprint away at every distraction while on a walk.
Also, make sure you’re not distracted while walking your dog, and pay attention to your surroundings instead of your phone. This way, you will be able to assess if there might be something that will get your dog overly excited, and you can avoid it.
What do you think of dog leashes and collars causing serious hand injuries? Have you mishandled your dog’s leash and collar before? Let us know in the comments below!