When I’m doing a consultation with a geriatric pet, how well they ambulate is something I focus on and I’m happy to make suggestions on how that might be made safer and easier. Bare floors can be too slick for them to get traction on whilst making their way through a room, and causing them to slip, fall and even sustain an injury. Non-skid rugs, yoga mats and neatly-trimmed nails are common things that I recommend to aid in boosting traction and guarding against slips and falls, but there are other strategies.
Booties to protect draggy back paws and give a little more traction that’s lost with diminishing mobility, though those are not a good fit, excuse the pun, for every dog and for various reasons.
Though many professionals, myself included, suggest something like Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips, they are most definitely not suitable for every dog. Getting them on, while a pretty simple process, can be stressful for both dog (and their humans) if said animal has an aversion to their paws being handled due to arthritis or anxiety about the interaction. One of my families noted that they waited until their pet was exhausted to attempt it, which as you can imagine still didn’t go over very well.
It’s not lost on me that in my area of specialty, I’m having many more physical interactions with pets — medicating, giving injections, tending to hygiene, re-positioning, assisting with mobility — and so making every interaction that I have with a companion animal be as free from stress and anxiety all the while doing so safely is foundational. It’s equally vital that my families are using whatever strategies that are as low-stress and safe while effective to tend to their pets: this supports the human-animal bond. Interactions that cause families and pets stress and anxiety often slowly chip away at the human-animal bond with the negative or fearful reactions of pets. As a pet care professional specializing in fourth life-stage support, its clear to me that bond is the single most important thread in the equation.
I’m happy to offer up one easy strategy to families to offer pets sure footing, and it involves minimal physical handling, so it’s good for even the most touch-averse dog.
Bio-Groom’s Show Foot — easily available through online retailers — is a product that handlers have used in the ring to give their show dogs better traction on slippery floors, and it’s one that some of my families have found helpful. Whether you’re at home or at the vet clinic, this convenient product can be quickly sprayed on the pads of the paws to instantly give dogs the extra grip they need to navigate confidently. The staying power of the product varies, but its ease of use and effectiveness are a boon in bridging the gap that families find themselves facing with one of the most troublesome and common problems with their aging dogs.
Lorrie Shaw is a Certified Professional Pet Sitter, Certified Pet Loss and Grief Companion, and owner
of Professional Pet Sitting, where she specializes in ancillary pet palliative and pet hospice care. She’s also a member of Doggone Safe (where she completed the Speak Dog Certificate Program), as well as the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, Pet Sitters International, Pet Professional Guild, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (supporting member) and Ann Arbor Area Pet Sitters. Lorrie can be found at lorrieshaw.com. She tweets at @psa2.