Wooden and tiled floors are frequently hazardous for our patients. Slipping can predispose them to iliopsoas tears or strains and flare up of arthritic joints, which eventually results in more pain and discomfort for the pet. Once a patient has slipped or fallen, it is not uncommon that they lose confidence in walking on these surfaces, which increases their anxiety and stress levels.
Dogs get traction through their nails and their paw pads. The solutions to preventing slipping involve increasing traction through either the nails, paw pads, or both.
However, instead of using products, teach your clients to do these simple steps and they are less invasive for the pet, and in many cases, this is all the pet needs to improve its traction.
1. Trim long haired pet’s fur: The hair between the paws can interfere with its ground contact. When the hair gets between the paw pads and the floor, slipping is likely to happen, especially in poodles and dogs with silky smooth coats. If the pet does not allow you to do this, a poodle parlour could do it easily with an electric clipper.
2. Trim long nails: The pet’s nails should just touch the ground when the pet is standing. Any longer, and they will interfere with the way they walk, making it especially challenging on slippery floors.
3. Mats or rugs: Sometimes, pet owners have smaller areas of tiled or wooden floors. If this is the case, they should get mats or rugs that their pet can safely walk on. I would recommend putting one where the pet lies. Make sure that at any point the pet needs to stand up, they can put their paws on a non-slip surface. Also, don’t forget how difficult it is to eat when your front legs keep slipping outwards. Some pets may compensate by eating while lying down, which is far from ideal for digestion. Other areas pets may struggle are when they jump off the couch and up and down the steps.
4. Nonslip tape: Black self-adhesive nonslip tape is great to use on steps.
However, sometimes, even after doing all of these, a patient is still struggling and slipping. Then, it is time to resort to products. There are many different products that help to prevent slipping on wooden tiles and floors. Some work well in some cases and not in others. Often, it is necessery to try a few products until finding the right fit for a patient.
5. Sticky Pawz: They are biodegradable, reusable, and sold in packs of 12.
I package these and sell them to my clients in packs of four. They are thin enough so the pet can feel the ground. Thus, it makes it really easy for the pet to walk in. It is particularly suitable for dogs with a neurological condition or very weak ones. However, keep in mind that they should not be left on for long periods as sedentary dogs often experience paw swelling. As dogs sweat between their pet pads, if you leave these on for too long, a patient may get dermatitis between the toes. Patients with skin issues are commonly susceptible to getting dermatitis when using Pawz. One can also use a little bit of talcum powder inside the Pawz, which helps to refresh them. The back paws and the front paws can sometimes be different sizes, so the client may need to buy two different sizes.
6. Toe grips: These are small rings fitting over the pets nail. They work by increasing the grip zone and helping the pet get traction. One big plus is that you don’t have to take them off. They actually stay on the pet 24 hours a day, and it is comfortable. They are also great for pets that suffer with dermatitis as they allow aeration of the paws. However, be careful, they can fall off, and this depends on the patient, where they walk and how busy they are. They usually must be replaced on a monthly basis, but if your patient loses them before, it can become costly. Toe nail sizes can vary between the front and back, and the client may need to purchase two different sizes.
7. Pawfriction: This is a new product, which I have tested on my old boy Charlie. One uses medical grade glue on the pet’s paw pads and then dips the pet’s paw into a bowl of pulverised rubber. This forms a layer on the paw pad, and it works amazingly. But, you should be careful if your patient has long hair. In that case, you should trim the hair between the paw pads. It’s a fantastic option for pets that don’t like things on their feet. It can be a bit tricky to put it on initially, but by the fourth paw, you will have it waxed. Charlie hates his paws being touched, but I think it’s more about his nails. The Sticky Pawz and toe grips are very difficult to apply, but the paw traction he tolerates. It rubs off quite quickly and will need to be applied again after about 2 weeks.
8. Boots or shoes: These usually come with a suede or rubber sole, which also help with grip and traction. They are heavier and more cumbersome than the rubber socks, and accordingly, harder to walk in. I would not recommend these for very weak dogs or those with neurological problems. Some shoes are made for trail running, and they come with hard soles. This is great because they will last longer, but, on the down side, they do not conform to the pet’s paw and they make walking a lot harder. They can even alter the way the pet walks, which in the end will cause more problems.So, make sure the booties are flexible. Do not use boots or shoes if a pet has paw arthritis, as this commonly makes it worse. In particular, problems with boots are that they slip off or twist around. I advise you to check the length of the boot, considering that the longer boots usually anchor better. I find the shorter boots that just cover the paws and don’t extend up to the metacarpals or the metatarsal area usually twist around.
Slipping, as we know, can pose a serious risk for our patients. If you want to help your patient to walk freely and comfortably and ensure their safety, follow these simple steps. However, if it doesn’t work and your patient still needs help, do not hesitate to try the recommended products and find out which one works the best for that animal.