Here's a great article by pet owner Daniela Caride, who tested a number of products to help her older dog Gepetto stop slipping and sliding on their home's hardwood floors.
Our 5-year-old Bernese Geppetto is getting older. And on top of it, he always had some degree of difficulty to walk. No need to say stairs became a huge challenge for him a couple of years ago, and he began skidding more and more. The worst thing, though, was going down the stairs, and he became more and more reluctant to use them, since he fell several times. (He didn't get hurt, but I think he got a little scared.)
Here's what I learned while trying to prevent him from skidding and falling. Hopefully it will help you come up with a plan for your dog, too.
We first installed no-skid tape on the steps — the JVCC non-skid tape –, which you can buy at Amazon. It looked really good on the stairway because I could barely see it, and the traction it provides is quite good. The only problem is when I removed it, years later. The wood finish came right off with the tape and all.
With the tape, Geppetto felt more confident going up and down the stairs for a year. It also improved safety for us humans. But as time went by, Geppetto got worse and showed signs that he needed something with more grip to keep him confident.
We got carpet stair treads – the Dean Serged treads at Amazon and secured them with double-sided carpet tape. Things got much better for him right away. Geppetto didn't fall once. But he was still skidding around the house, especially when he stepped on the floor right after going down the stairs.
So we added a rug at the bottom of the stairway, which solved the problem of a sudden fall. Because of cat and dog shedding, Martin and I never bought many rugs. When we finally got our first rug, we noticed Geppetto loved it. He would stay there all day, and I think it was because of the traction. I then decided to try to find something for his paws, so we didn't have to cover the entire house with rugs.
We tried Musher's Secret — an all-natural wax-based cream to protect paws from harsh surfaces, sand, ice, etc. Dogs' paw pads get hardened and crack more easily as they age. And I'd heard that this wax helped keep them heathy to the point the dog would not skid so much.
Musher's Secret is excellent for keeping paw pads protected especially during winter, but I didn't see any significant improvements on Geppetto in terms of skidding, even after more than a month of weekly applications.
I thought of buying self-adhesive traction pads for Geppetto, but gave up after seeing it had such bad reviews at Amazon, mostly because the pads come off almost instantly, according to the buyers. Also, dogs sweat through their paw pads — one of the very few ways they have to keep their body temperature down –, so it didn't seem like a good idea to block their paw pads. I'd avoid these stickers, even though the idea at first seems good.
We got Geppetto all kinds of boots you can imagine. He hated all of them, especially the ones made of non-flexible materials like nylon with thick soles, like this one. Apparently dogs need to feel the ground to feel comfortable walking. Otherwise they start doing that funny walk that we've seen far too often on YouTube…
The only boots Geppetto tolerated is Pawz Dog Boots, which are very thin and made of rubber. They actually look like party rubber balloons. They are excellent for protecting his paws against bruises and chemicals on the street. But Geppetto cannot wear those inside the house. They stick to the hardwood floor and pop right out of his paws. Also, they don't let the paw breathe, so I don't feel comfortable leaving them on Geppetto for too long. We use it to go for a walk when he need extra paw protection.
Then Woodrow Wear sent us some Power Paws dog socks. Getting the right measure was tricky. We first though Geppetto was XXXL, but the socks were coming off all the time. When we tried the XXL socks, they almost never came off, and he was not only feeling more confident, but also walking properly — he was not dragging his paws anymore, but lifting them at every step. It was a wonderful surprise that the socks worked so well.
The socks are really wonderful, and I highly recommend them for every dog. The only cons you should know about are that (1) they may come off every now and then, so you have to keep an eye on them and have at least one extra pair in case you lose some. Also, (2) I had to remove them every time Geppetto went outside to pee. Otherwise they got dirty and wet. Since he (3) feels too hot wearing socks, he soon learned he should ask to go out to the backyard all the time, so I would remove the socks over and over again. Geppetto drove me nuts, but it was worth it while we lived in our Cambridge house.
Below is Geppetto going up the stairs for the first time while wearing his Power Paws socks. He is unsure at first, but soon he realizes the socks are giving him more traction. (And Frieda, of course, has to participate on every activity, so she follows him upstairs.) :-)
Martin and I often talked about the future, when Geppetto would eventually not be able to use the stairs at all. Many times we talked about the possibility of getting him what's called an inclined platform lift in a few years. They are generally used for transporting wheelchairs up and down the stairs, and would be the only ones my extra-large dogs would ever fit into. But these can cost lots of money (around $2k to $3k) and are generally bulky. So I'm glad we never got to that point.
Here's one of the top-of-the-line slim wheelchair stair lifts…
Eventually Martin and I decided to move. We did not want to move to an apartment, so we decided we needed to look for a one-level home, which would decrease dangers of having stairs for us humans and our dogs. It was the best thing we ever did for us and for Geppetto. His disabilities became way less evident instantly. And I confess it's been great for us humans, too. Way less dangerous, especially when carrying bulky items down the stairs.
When we found the home we wanted, we weren't sure if Geppetto would be OK with the kind of flooring it came with. The rooms were carpeted, and the kitchen had linoleum (all OK), but the living room had hardwood flooring. So I researched all the coating products available to avoid skidding.
One of the products available on the market is Bona Traffic Anti-slip coating – a favorite among flooring professionals and most times the only thing they would recommend for hardwood. One of the companies prepared an area at the office for us to test Bona right beside a regular hardwood floor coating. Geppetto indeed felt more confident on the surface treated with non-skid Bona. The only thing I should mention is that you can only get a flat look on it. It will not shine at all (which in part may be good because scratches become less evident).
There are also several products you can apply to your floors yourself. No Skidding makes a wide range of no-skidding products, from tapes to coatings, that you should check out.
I give Cosequin DS to Geppetto daily. I am not sure how he would be without it (I never stopped giving it to them). But one thing helped him a lot after I noticed he was getting up too slowly because of joint stiffness: fish oil. He improved immediately when I began adding it to his food daily (additionally to the Cosequin DS). The vet said it's OK to give him both.
Just make sure you don't give too much fish oil. It could strain his liver. Also, make sure you give you dog fish oil for dogs, so you can follow the directed amount FOR DOGS — I buy Sea Pet Fish Oil from Entirely Pets. People and pets should be given different amount of fish oil for proper treatment.
Swimming has been a huge part of Geppetto's treatment since the start, and I totally recommend it. It's such good exercise without straining joints and muscles too much.
Geppetto was a great swimmer, and playing fetch at the pond made him strong and healthier, I'm sure. Unfortunately, he is beyond ball tossing in the water right now. With time, he began having too much difficulty swimming, and it's clear that he'll sink at any time if I'm not around. So I take him to the pond as always, and I monitor him closely even in shallow water. I let him swim a bit sometimes, but I'm ready to throw myself in the pond.
Last time we've been swimming, Geppetto was playing with a stick — the water probably touching his belly — and he fell (his balance is not too good). He couldn't get up and flipped while submerged. I was right there, thank goodness, and I pulled him out in a few seconds. I'm happy I can be close to him, supervising every movement. Despite being all wet, he was fine and happy. :-)
I have heard that regular sessions of some treatments can do wonders for dogs with difficulty walking, stiffness and arthritis. Many readers told me laser treatment for painful joints are amazing and make the dog feel better almost instantly, and I know that Acupuncture and Reiki has also helped many dogs in need of pain relief.
Another option can be orthotics for your dog. This is really state-of-the-art stuff, and it does control mobility problems in some dogs really well. Talk to your vet if you are considering this option. She will be able to tell you if this should work or not, and what type of product is more suitable for your dog.
If nothing you tried is working and your dog has been losing quality of life severely, you may want to consider discussing with your vet a doggie wheelchair. Do not get one before consulting at least one veterinarian because maybe your dog can go back to walking on his own under the direction of a professional.
Also, make sure you choose an adjustable wheelchair. They are more expensive, but they work. I see many shelters get wheelchairs for homeless dogs that need to be replaced when the dog is adopted because it's hurting him or not working as it should.
Geppetto is doing quite well now. Not having stairs and having carpeting and some rugs around the house really helped, and it's all we need for now. We keep the socks handy if he may need them, and we may consider finishing our floors with Bona in the future, whenever our floors need to be redone.
I hope this list helps you with your dog. My piece of advice is:
Please let me know what your impression was on any products you get, and please send me any tips on new non-skid products for dogs. Good luck! :-)
Posted by Daniela Caride on taildom.com on July 16, 2012