Although you may love your shiny floors, there is a good chance that your dog doesn’t. Dogs often slip and fall on indoor flooring. Most times, the result is usually nothing more than a good laugh for you; however, many dogs get seriously hurt on slippery flooring. The result is quite often broken bones and/or contusions. Dogs often hit their chin on the floor, which causes pain and even tooth breakage. Puppies can easily injure soft tissue, because their muscles and ligaments have not finished developing. Another problem is that the dog will grow to be fearful of all smooth flooring.
For highly intelligent dogs, it only takes one or two slips for this phobia to imbed itself. In anticipation of slipping, a dog will often compound the problem by tensing its muscles and trying to grip the floor with its toenails, reducing traction and making it even less sure-footed. Quick action to overcome this fear is the best remedy. Try walking the dog on a leash across the floor, offering treats as it walks along. Another method is to place the food dish on the doorway that leads to the slippery floor, sliding it further into the room at each meal.
Playtime is also a good opportunity to help your dog adjust to smooth floors. Take out its favorite toy and play. Make “backing up” part of your dog’s heeling or loose-leash walking practice, and a part of playtime. Help your dog become more aware of moving the hind end and hind feet. This will improve the dog’s confidence and ability to maneuver. Over time, the dog will relax and learn how to walk properly on smooth flooring.
However, after several attempts to help your dog overcome his fear of slippery flooring have failed, it’s time to re-evaluate the situation. Keep in mind, your dog can’t tell you what’s really happening. Take your dog to the veterinarian to check for injuries or an issue that could cause your dog pain when it walks on smooth floors. Even if the veterinarian does not find a cause, do what you can to spare your dog the discomfort and/or stress caused by smooth floors.
Dogs with special needs, older dogs, dogs with orthopedic issues like hip dysplasia and arthritis, vision-impaired dogs and large dogs, all require careful consideration when it comes to household flooring. Slippery flooring can be both dangerous and uncomfortable for dogs that are sick and weak, and difficult for dogs with impaired vision or for those who use a cart for mobility.
Place rubber-backed rugs across the floor to create a walkway for your dog. Place carpet strips or runners on stairs. In cases where a dog must walk on a smooth floor, make the floor less slippery. Use cleaning products that don’t create a slippery surface. Clean up spills as soon as possible. Place rugs in areas that tend to get wet, such near the entrances to your home, your kitchen sink and your bathroom. Ask your veterinarian or pet health professional for suggestions on how to prevent slick flooring.
Always make sure your dog’s claws are neatly trimmed. Clip the excess fur that grows out between the bottoms of your dog’s footpads. Make sure your dog’s feet are dry before they walk across a slippery floor.
If your dog will tolerate them, try a pair of dog boots or non-slip dog socks. They come in a variety of sizes and provide traction on wet or hard surfaces. You can easily secure them to the dog’s paws with Velcro and they offer protection from sharp substances such as glass or rocks.
There are times when you will unexpectedly encounter a slippery floor while you are with your dog. You can make your dog’s paws sticky by coating them with soda or juice. If you happen to have a towel, small rug, blanket or even a shirt or jacket, place it on the floor ahead of the dog, and keep moving it to the destination as your dog steps across the room. You can also place your dog on top of the fabric or rug and pull the fabric or rug along the floor. If your dog is small enough and used to it, pick it up and carry it.
When you have an appointment to bring your dog to the veterinarian, groomer or anywhere that you anticipate may have slippery floors, call ahead to find out if they have rugs that they can put down for your dog. Most animal care professionals and animal doctors know that slippery floors are a common challenge for some dogs. Oftentimes, they will carry a dog on a blanket or stretcher or wheel it across the floor on a gurney.
By making a few minor adjustments, you can prevent your best friend from slippery floor-related injuries and fears. Although it is best to prevent such problems, you can’t always avoid them. A quick remedy and gentle encouragement can often alleviate your dog’s stress. However, education is the key to avoid and deal with slippery floors.