Have a Pandemic Puppy? 12 Ways to Prevent Human Injuries with Your New Best Friend

Dog outside in winter

While exact numbers are difficult to assess, the anecdotal evidence is telling — everywhere, it seems, there are puppies out and about with their new humans during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The phenomenon even has a name: Pandemic Puppies.

People all over the world are getting new dogs to provide companionship, love and a good reason to get outside and exercise. With all the joy a new pup brings, Fido can also cause significant injuries to its owners if they are not careful. Keep these tips in mind to prevent injuries as you bond with your new puppy, especially in the winter and early spring season.

  1. Hold onto the handle of the leash with the palm of your (gloved) hand, fingers around the handle so that you can quickly let go of the leash if needed. Never wrap the leash around your arm or wrist. If your dog unexpectedly runs — which even the best-trained dogs do — you may not have time to unwrap the leash. Many broken arms, wrists, legs and concussions are the result of this common mistake. Consider using a harness instead of a leash, particularly if your pup is strong.
  2. Always be aware of where your dog is when you use stairs. Make sure you hold their leash properly and the dog is close by your side as you navigate the steps. Otherwise, you run the high risk of getting knocked down or tripping over your dog as they traverse the stairs.
  3. Be extra careful when walking your dog on snow and ice to prevent slips and falls. Make sure you bundle up for the weather when you go on walks — you don’t want to get frostbite or have your hands become so cold they can’t handle the leash.
  4. Never sled, ski, or do other active sports with your dog. It could cause serious harm to you and your pup. 
  5. Prevent deep scratches by keeping your dogs’ nails short.
  6. Train your pup not to jump and bite to prevent injuring yourself and others.
  7. Leave dogs alone when they are eating — some dogs can be aggressive around food.
  8. Make sure to supervise your dog closely when they are around children to ensure they are well-acquainted.
  9. Never leave your dog alone around infants.
  10. Ensure your dog is properly vaccinated to prevent the spread of illnesses.
  11. Good hand hygiene is important for all pet owners. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you walk your dog, and especially after you appropriately dispose their waste.
  12. The best way to stay safe and warm? Cuddle up with your pup at home and enjoy all of the benefits that puppy therapy brings.

While this article is about preventing human injuries with a dog, here is one cautionary “tail” while you get acclimated with your new dog during the pandemic: Keep wearing your mask when you are out in the community with your dog — to keep yourself and others safe. However, keep all masks away from your dog! There have been reports of dogs eating masks, causing serious injury to their digestive systems.

Call your primary care physician or an orthopedic surgeon if you are injured and are not able to perform everyday activities and/or you have ongoing pain. Visit Emerson Hospital’s orthopedics homepage for information and to request an appointment.

Share Your Pet

Do you have a pet that has been keeping your spirits high? We would love to see! Share a photo of your cat, dog, or other multi-legged, winged, or even no-legged friend with us on our Facebook or Instagram pages @EmersonHospital with #EmersonPets.

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