Of all the potential problems facing senior dogs, household accidents may be the most preventable. As dogs age, their risk of injuries caused by slips and falls on tile, hardwood, and laminate floors increases.
These surfaces can be difficult for any dog, but seniors have the added challenges of achy, unstable joints and decreased confidence in their mobility.
Canines have thick nails designed to dig into the soft earth for traction. As they walk their toes flex, gripping the ground like sports cleats. Since this is not possible on hard surfaces, you will often see older dogs walking with a “tippy-toed,” hesitant gait.
Slips and falls can lead to injuries ranging from painful bruises to torn ligaments, pinched nerves, swollen joints and fractures. Luckily, there are several ways you can help your aging pooch stay safe and regain his confidence when navigating your hard flooring.
1. Have your dog’s nails trimmed regularly.
Shorter nails help normalize your dog’s gait on hard surfaces. Rather than seeking traction by flexing their toes, dogs with short nails can stabilize their posture by walking on their paw pads.
2. Keep foot hair trimmed and neat.
Dogs with hair growing between their toes and paw pads face the challenge of essentially trying to walk in slippers on a slick surface. Regular grooming to keep the hair trimmed away from the pads is a must for these pups.
3. Use strategically placed rugs and runners.
Placing throw rugs, mats, and carpet runners in the high-traffic areas of your home can help provide your pooch with secure footing in the areas he travels most. Focus on the rooms where your family congregates as well as hallways and around outer doorways and food bowls. Be sure to secure rugs to the floor to prevent them from slipping when stepped on.
4. Secure your dog’s favorite sleep spots.
Dogs – especially seniors – spend a good portion of their day sleeping, but getting up and down from a laying position can be especially challenging with hard flooring. Consider placing rugs or non-slip pads in the areas where your dog likes to nap.
5. Don’t forget the stairs.
Hard-surfaced stairways can be especially treacherous for older dogs. If you live in a multi-level home, be sure to have a safety plan in place for your pooch. Some pet parents restrict access to stairways using baby gates while others invest in secure carpet runners.
6. Keep your dog fit and trim.
Overweight and obese dogs experience more pain and pressure on their joints, and those that do not get enough exercise are prone to muscle wasting and weakness. It is important to feed a nutritious diet and maintain an active lifestyle as your dog ages in order to keep him at a healthy weight and improve his mobility.
7. Provide a joint care supplement.
Healthy diet and regular exercise can only go so far to relieve arthritis and joint pain in aging dogs. Try adding a supplement specifically formulated with senior dogs in mind. Project Paws® Hypoallergenic Hip & Joint Soft Chewscontain powerful active ingredients like Glucosamine HCl, MSM, Chondroitin and Creatine Monohydrate as well as an array of vitamins and natural extracts to support joint health.
Unlike other products on the market, Hip & Joint Soft Chews come with the Project Paws Promise which offers a refund if your senior dog does not become happier and healthier while taking them. They are also the only Hip & Joint Supplement for dogs that gives back to shelter animals by providing healthy meals to homeless pups awaiting their forever homes.
8. Choose a product designed to give your pup’s paws traction.
There are a number of products out there with claims of helping senior dogs navigate slippery floors. Some are specially-designed socks with strips of non-slip material on the bottom to provide traction. PupGear’s Paw Pads are another option. Rather than a garment designed to go over the foot, the self-adhesive traction pads stick directly to your dog’s foot pads.
One product that I have a good deal of personal experience with are Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips. The veterinary clinic where I worked as a technician strongly recommended them to our senior dog owners – not because they offered us any incentive, but because we saw their benefits in action on our own senior pets and clients’ dogs!
ToeGrips are rubber cylinders that simply slide onto the dog’s toenails, restoring their natural ability to grip with their nails and providing traction and confidence on hard surfaces. See them in action in this amazing side-by-side video of a blind, three-legged dog before and after ToeGrips.
Following these 8 simple tips can not only boost your senior dog’s confidence, it can improve his quality of life and help prolong the healthy, happy times you spend together!
Love, The PetsWell Team