They might be man's best friend but dogs have been involved in 11,741 accidents where people claimed an injury through the Accident Compensation Corporation.

The accidents happened over 12 months, from November 2016 to October this year. In total ACC accepted 55,472 claims related to animals, costing $12.5 million.

According to figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act, there were also more than 28,000 insect accidents, 5328 injuries caused by cats, 4750 injuries from spiders, 2687 related to horses, 1561 for cattle and 89 accidents involving deer.

Puncture wounds, stings, and lacerations were the most common type of injury caused by an animal, with 35,655 claims.

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The next was an occupational disease or infection, with 11,436 claims.

Some of the more serious accidents included 12 people who needed amputation or surgery to remove an eye, four people who suffered deafness, 112 people who sustained a concussion or head injury, and five people who had a nervous shock or mental injury.

Other types of accidents claimed for incidents involving animals included burns or scalds, 5; fractures and dislocation, 839; dental injuries, 608; inhalation and ingestion accidents, 983 and soft tissue injuries, 32.

Children had the highest number of accidents with 8320 claims for zero to 4-year-olds, followed by 5-9-year-olds with 6679 injuries.

More than 750 people aged 85-plus also suffered accidents involving animals, and overall 30,963 claimants were female and 24,509 male.

The total cost of treatment was $7.49m broken down by:

• Medical $6.7m;
• Hospital $571,106;
• Dental $220,193.

ACC chief customer officer Mike Tully said dog-related injuries often happened while the canine pets were off leash and at the park.

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"A number of those accidents happen when dogs are outdoors enjoying the freedom, going for a good run, picking up speed and banging into somebody.

"An injury can occur, particularly around the knee."

Tully warned walkers and dog owners to be wary the animals often don't stop in time.

"Just be careful of dogs running toward you, they can be a bit slow to brake. They just don't move.

"Therefore as the dog owner, trying to be conscious of that, that unless your dog is going to listen to you that you may be better sometimes saying to the person where your dog is running to, please step aside or get out of the way."

Tully said people needed to be aware it did not take a big pooch to cause an accident with serious injury.

"Once they've got speed on and they connect with a human being, big or small they can cause some damage."

His warning around horses, cattle and other big animals was to use common sense.

"If you're a farmer, you're around horses, you're around cattle, you generally know how to handle yourself and the stock.

"If you're new to that... I have seen people think 'Well I can pat the horse so therefore I could climb over and get a photo' etc but if you don't know the animal you're dealing with we'd really ask that you keep your distance and use common sense."

Tully said the number of injuries from animals were not increasing but there was often a fluctuation in dog-related injuries.

He issued a warning for pet owners over the Christmas holidays.

"Kids are excited and when kids are excited dogs can get excited. Just be aware of the odd nip and scratch that could occur and we do see that come through ACC at this time of year."