Dog owners at risk of serious injury if using leads incorrectly

Do you wrap your dog’s lead around your fingers or wrist? Surgeons have warned this could result in serious hand injuries.

They claim that thousands of people could be at risk from lacerations, friction burns, fractured bones and ligament injuries.

In Cornwall last year alone, there were 30 serious injuries as a result of using dog leads in this way, the British Society for Surgery of the Hand said.

One of these injuries happened to Jillian Tisdale, age 65, who has two retrievers. She was using the lead wrapped around her finger, when one of her dogs got distracted and ran off.

Her retractable lead ended up wrapping tightly around her middle fingers, causing severe damage to her right hand. This included ‘degloving’, where the skin and some soft tissue are ripped off the hand.

Jillian described the incident as putting her in ‘terrible pain’ and said the action felt like ‘a fileting knife’. On top of the degloving, she suffered severe cuts and dislocated her index finger.

She needed surgery to remove the top part of her finger and a skin graft, leaving her with a permanently shorter middle finger as a result.

Speaking about the aftermath, Jillian said: ‘I still can’t form a proper fist yet and I’m continuing to do exercises to strengthen my hand.’

Despite the horrific injury, she still plans to return to her physical hobbies such as climbing, diving and even dog walking, once her condition is better.

 

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Consultant Surgeon Rebecca Dunlop treated Jillian at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, and has also been collecting data on these sorts of injuries. She revealed there has been an increase in this type of injury over the past few years.

‘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.’ She said, adding that hand injuries can be incredibly costly due to time off work and medical bills.

To avoid these injuries, dog owners are advised to avoid hooking their fingers under a dog collar, and not wind the lead around their hands or fingers whilst walking. It’s also not recommended to use retractable leads in closed spaces, as it’s easy for them to wrap around legs, trees and even furniture.