Study looks at risk of landscape edging for the first time

Injuries in children due to metal landscape edging (metal strips half-buried in the ground to edge lawns) have been previously documented. A 2001 study showed that over a two-year period, 126 children were admitted to the Children’s Hospital in Denver for lacerations caused by metal lawn edging, mostly to the feet and knees.

This dog sustained tendon injuries (left) from contact with metal landscape edging. The injuries had to be surgically repaired with mesh (right). (Photo courtesy of CSU VTH)

But what about the risk to pets? The danger of metal landscape edging to animals has not been documented until now. A new study shows that the sharp-edged landscaping tool also poses a risk of injury to dogs.

Amanda Duffy, DVM, MS, DACVECC, led the study while at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH). Her team looked at the frequency and severity of limb injuries in dogs resulting from contact with metal edging.

Over a 10 year period, the VTH admitted 60 dogs that fit the conditions for the study. These 60 dogs accounted for nearly one-third of all paw injuries at the VTH’s emergency service, according to the study.

"Most dogs were young, large breed dogs," the study says. "All 60 dogs suffered traumatic pedal lacerations when contacting metal landscape edging, the majority of which occurred on the forelimbs."

Duffy said that during her four years of working in Colorado, she treated many dogs that had been injured by metal edging, although she did not treat any of the dogs in the study.

"When I moved to Colorado from the Boston area, I was surprised to see so many injuries related to lawn edging," Duffy said. "Since it had never been reported, I thought it was important to write a paper to increase public awareness of the issue."

Duffy said she was surprised to learn how severe the injuries from edging can be. In some cases the injuries were life-threatening, she said.

Of the 60 dogs in the study, 85 percent of them needed surgery, and 18 percent required extensive surgical repair of skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscle, tendon, or fascia.

"I think the most important thing to be taken away from this study is that lawn edging injury does occur frequently and can cause significant damage to pets, with a significant expense," she said. "I think that all lawn edging should be covered or that it should not be made from metal, in order to prevent these types of injuries, which occur in children, too."

The study, "Canine pedal injury resulting from metal landscape edging," was published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. 

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