If your home has hard, shiny and slippery floors, your dog is probably slipping a little every time they walk through that room. If they try to play on that surface or move at speed they will sometimes slip a lot. Even if you don’t notice them slipping, they are probably doing so. At the very least they are working their muscles extra hard not to.
Differences between dogs and us
Dogs are digit-grade. This means that they are walking on their tip toes most of the time. The soles of our feet are big and flat and help us balance. The equivalent part of dogs feet spends most of the time up in the air. This gives them a reduced area to grip with.
Added to this, dog’s paw pads weren’t designed with slippery floors in mind. When I had hard slippery floors I used to wear non-slip slippers, but that isn’t really an option for our dogs.
Why slippery floors matter to your dog
This all means that whenever your dog is travelling across a slippery floor they are having to work their muscles in their shoulders and hips extra hard just to keep their legs underneath them.
This can become a habit, holding the extra tension within the muscle, which becomes sore over time and can then have knock on effects elsewhere in the body.
And when they do slip, they can be causing tears in their muscle fibres each time. Their muscles snatch tight to catch themselves. These can be bigger tears if your dog falls down. But also micro tears from the smaller slips.
The tiny tears can all add up. Each time a muscle fibre is damaged, when it repairs it forms scar tissue. Scar tissue is not as flexible or strong as normal tissue. It is more prone to further damage, so you end up in a viscious circle.
You might also notice a loss of confidence on some surfaces. Your dog may try to stay in a different area of the house to avoid the slippery floor.
What can we do?
Help your dogs avoid slippery floors
The single most important thing is to cover up slippery floors or limit your dog’s access to them. Non slip runners and large area rugs are ideal, especially in high traffic areas and areas where your dog will be changing direction, as this is where they are most likely to slip.
If you have a particularly slippery floor in one room, is there any way to limit the time your dog spends in there. Maybe choose to play with them somewhere else if you can.
Please consider your dog when replacing any floor surfaces, there are more grippy floorings available, whether you pick other types of laminate, wood or composite floor, tiles, vinyl or even carpet.
Keep nails a sensible length – if you are up on your tip toes you don’t then want your nails getting in the way of the floor. I try to keep my dog’s nails just short enough so they don’t ‘tick-tick’ as they walk on pavements.
If you only occasionally visit somewhere with slippery floors with your dog, consider using a paw wax to help them grip. You can buy paw wax in tins (like shoe polish) in pet shops or online. We sometimes train in a hall with a wooden floor that has a high sheen. I use paw wax then to minimise the slips. I definitely notice that my dog trains better when I have remembered the wax. This is probably because she isn’t concentrating on keeping her feet underneath her so much.
Having said non slip slippers aren’t an option for dogs, it is possible to buy a number of aids which might help. Caveat that I haven’t personally tried them! Things like rubber grips to slip onto their claws and non slip boots. If you have an ageing dog who is starting to struggle more it might be time to also investigate these options.
Trim the hair under their feet if it is getting long and getting between their pads and the floor. It is like us putting socks on to walk across the slippery floor. This doesn’t affect all dogs, but it may happen more if they are walking less at the moment. I had let this slide with one of mine recently, I was horrified to realise she had Hobbit feet not just on top but underneath too! Much happier after a quick trim.
How can massage help?
Canine Massage Therapy can help your dog to feel more comfortable. Including if they are experiencing any pain due to tight or injured muscles which might have arisen due to your dog losing their footing on slippery flooring.
I try to complete all initial consultations at your home rather than at the clinic. This gives me a chance to see where your dog lives and spends a lot of it’s time. This can help to identify the activities of daily living they undertake which might be contributing to their soreness. For example, does the living room where you spend a lot of time with your dog have a slippery floor, or are there big steps up to your home or garden? If I highlight these to you, you can then consider which you can act upon to reduce the risk.
Massage will relieve the muscle tightness and can remodel scar tissue. It will also provide natural pain relief. But do bear in mind the benefits of having massage for your dog are reduced if they are then just going to re-injure themselves on slippery floors as soon as they get home.
Contact me for more information
Is your dog reluctant to walk on slippery floors? Interested in finding out whether massage can help your dog?