Incorrect usage of leads and collars is contributing to “many serious injuries” amongst pet owners, according to the British Society for the Surgery of the Hand (BSSH).
It revealed that one hospital alone – the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS trust - treated 30 serious hand injuries caused by “dog lead or collar misuse” in just a single year.
Fractures, lacerations, dislocations and friction burns are the most common injuries incurred by unlucky dog owners, according to doctors.
Injuries are frequently more than just superficial, say surgeons, with some being seriously debilitating and taking up to a year for a full recovery.
In an effort to minimise further injuries, the BSSH has issued advice on the correct way to hold leads and collars.
They recommend that dog owners should not wrap the lead around their wrists, hands or fingers, or hook their fingers under a dog’s collar.
Surgeons also advise keeping bigger dogs on short leads to restrict them from building up speed.
Consultant surgeon Rebecca Dunlop, from Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, told the Daily Mail: “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.”
A common injury seen by Dunlop is spiral fractures of the finger bones, which is caused by incorrect handling of dog collars and leads and often requires surgery to fix.
“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,” she said.
Up to eight and half million dogs are kept as pets in the UK, according to RSPCA figures.