Why slippery floors are dangerous for ALL dogs

April 04, 2022

It is most common now for a lot of the rooms of our modern houses to be carpet free, and comprise of tiled or laminate flooring. They look nice, sure, but they are a massive hazard for dogs of all ages. Slippery floors are a very common cause of injuries in the home – both for older dogs who may already have conditions like arthritis, but also for puppies and young dogs. Yes, puppies are not immune to the vast array of problems caused by slippery floors!

Imagine walking on ice in flip flops…..its not easy is it? You can’t get a grip on the surface and it affects how you move, balance and, lets face it, we often fall flat on our face in the ice!  Think of slippery floors in your kitchen or living room as meaning your dog has to walk on ice every time they move around. The same applies to outdoor surfaces like wooden decking, especially if it becomes covered with slippery green algae in the winter.

Arthritic dogs + slippery floors = pain and more damage

Dogs simply cannot get traction on slippery surfaces and have to make a real effort to walk on such surfaces.  As a dog’s muscles become weaker due to age, and/or they have stiff, arthritic joints, it becomes even harder for them to navigate slippery floors, and every slip moves those painful joints and muscles out of their normal, “comfortable” range ( I say this in quotation marks because, from experience, I can tell you no movement when you have arthritis is truly comfortable).  Every time a dog slips, it causes microtrauma, which is basically small injuries to joints and surrounding soft tissue, and these can cause scar tissue, stiffness and pain in the immediate term, but in older dogs or dogs with any degree of joint pain or arthritis, these regular small slips can lead to a faster progression of their arthritis.

Preventing this repetitive trauma and pain using simple measures is likely to make life easier both in the short and long term for the arthritic dog.

 Puppies slipping on flooring affects their future joints

Studies have shown that dogs housed in an area with slippery floors while young are 1.6 times more likely to develop hip dysplasia, compared with dogs kept on a non-slippery floor. (Van Hagen et al, 2005). Hip dysplasia can, over time, be a huge factor in the development of athritis. So preventing slipping in puppies and young dogs can reduce the risk of poor joint development and therefore reduce the risk of that dog developing athritis when older. Win win!

Runners and rugs = less drugs!

Preventing this trauma to joints and muscles which occurs over and over is so easy to do, and will make your dog’s life much easier both now and longer term – cover slippery floors with non-slip runners and rugs. If there is an area a runner or rug wont fit, use non-slip doormats or anti-slip clear tape, or use runners and rugs at least in the main pathways your dog tends to take to navigate through the home. This enables them to move around the house without risking an injury.

Why spend money on things like hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture and supplements when any benefit will be immediately undone when your dog slips constantly in the home? By preventing the slipping, especially in the older or arthritic dog, you will most likely find your dog wont need as many medications to address the pain, because some of the unnecessary pain will being prevented!

Slipping does not only happen at speed

Contrary to popular belief as well, slipping does not only happen if a dog runs at speed through the house. If you watch your dog move through the house, watch closely and you will see that often their paws slip slightly on every step. Even these small slips can cause damage – to older dogs it can cause immediate pain, and to puppies and younger dogs it can cause damage over time. This is one of the reasons I no longer do classes in a hall….because I used to put large non slip carpets down, but I simply cant do that any more due to my own medical issues, and wont have puppies or dogs of any age now moving around on slippery floors.

Also – watch how your dog gets up from a lying position if he is on a slippery, laminate or tiled floor. Does he get up easily? Watch his paws….do they move and slip, even slightly, as he gets up? Even these seemingly small slipping movements are enough to cause pain and damage, especially over time.

Trimming the fur between your dog’s paw pads will help with traction, but there is no getting away from the fact that dog’s paws are simply not ever going to be able to get sufficient traction on slippery floors to move around safely and without some degree of injury (whether we are aware of it or not – remember that dogs tolerate a huge amount of pain before they show any obvious signs that are easily recognised by us humans!).

So please…..regardless of age of your dog…..please cover slippery floors and try and prevent them slipping. Your dog will thank you for it!

Angela Doyle. Polite Paws 2022

 

By Angela Doyle

I am a highly experienced and qualified reward based dog trainer and behaviour consultant based in Surrey, UK. I am a fully qualified CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer) and specialise in helping dogs overcome Separation Anxiety.

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