Staying Safe With Pets In Your Home

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SAIL Member Dana Schreiber and her poodle, Pierre, volunteer at the Dane County airport helping people who are stressed about flying!

What would we do without our wonderful pets? But let’s be honest…sometimes they can get in the way.  The last thing we want to do is fall and hurt ourselves…or them! 

SAIL Member Dana Schreiber had a very interesting story on this topic and wrote up the following information to share with SAIL members who have pets.  There are several great tips here for staying safe and keeping your furry family members happy too! 

While at the Only leaves must fall conference, I told many people this story:

I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and referred to rheumatology. The doctor asked me if I had any trip risks in my home. I said, “just my little dog.”  The doctor then asked me if I could give him to a neighbor.

Well, that was it for that doctor! It was never an option for me.  All I told were appalled and noted that their animals were part of their family.

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Putting a bell on your buddy’s collar will keep them from sneaking up on you! 

During the conference we were assessed for risk hazard.  I mentioned my little poodle. A Physical Therapy student suggested a bell around his neck so he couldn’t sneak up behind me and cause me to fall back on him. I also mentioned that when I’m walking him and I bend over to pick up his poop, I sometimes felt dizzy getting up.  The same student suggested squatting to pick up his poop rather than bending over. I tried that and it totally changed my balance problem..(also as an aside, if you are asthmatic or have trouble breathing, bending over compromises your breathing and you may, as I do, feel short of breath when you stand up).

The fact is animals can cause some safety hazards for those of us aging in our homes with our pets. Giving them to a neighbor or away at all is not an option! So here are some more things I found on the internet:

1) When you will be up and active, perhaps exercising or something, put your dog in a kennel or gated room so he doesn’t get underfoot.

2) Clean up spills and messes, from water bowls or kibble …( including any feces or urine that you missed…. This can cause falls.

3) Clear walkways, bathrooms and general living spaces of dog toys and other animals paraphernalia … bones, chew toys, leashes…easy to trip on.

4) If you are expecting company put your animal in another room until the company is settled… excited dogs can knock someone down and cats can run and hide to then perhaps become trip hazard. Make sure your dog is friendly to strangers before you let them loose

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Good boy! 

Something else to consider:
If you live with a pet and you have a young child visitor, be careful of how they interact. Children are often the victims of dog bites, especially in the face. This can happen because the animal may not be used to the hectic behavior or children. Sometimes kids will try and take a toy away, or get into their food bowl while they are eating. Or perhaps a child may want to dress up or wrap up an animal and that animal does not like or is not used to that confinement.  If your animal is only used to few people or one who is quiet and knows their habits, a young active visitor may frighten them. A frightened animal may bite. If a dog or cat, (mostly dogs) bites, often, though the animal is just reacting out of fear, they are blamed for the attack and sometimes the dog may be removed from the home for no fault of its own. That would be really sad for all involved.

If you have any other suggestions or any comments on this information please share. These are recommendations from the internet, from a PT student and from a dog bite prevention class I help teach to young children. For now, enjoy your pets and be safe!

Click here to read an article about Pierre and Dana from the Wisconsin State Journal! 

Click here for a great article from Aging In Place about the benefits and considerations of having a pet as a senior citizen. 

Do you have some helpful tips to share with SAIL members? E-mail meghan@sailtoday.org or call 608-230-4321!

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