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Dog looking up whilst resting on a hardwood floor

The essentials

  • Dog slips on floors are common — Flooring type is usually the reason why dogs slide so much in the house.
  • Injuries are uncommon — You might not be able to change your flooring (or want to!), but it’s unlikely your dog will incur injury after a minor slip inside the house.
  • Prevention is easy — Lessen dog slips and falls with one of these 12 tips and strategies.

If you notice your dog slipping and sliding on your shiny indoor floors, don’t panic. Most pups slip and slide on shiny linoleum, laminate, tile, hardwood floors, or other hard indoor flooring. This is a common canine response to surfaces their paws just weren’t designed for. After all, their nails can’t flex and grip a hard surface the way they grip grass, soil, or carpeting.

But even though it’s usually the floor that’s to blame for this Bambi-on-ice performance from your furry friend, there are other reasons your pup might be having a hard time: they might have an underlying health issue, dry paw pads, or joint and ligament pain.

Could my dog get hurt from a slip on the floor?

While it’s common for dogs to slip and slide, it can occasionally lead to injuries ranging from bruises to broken or damaged bones. Even puppies can get hurt from an unexpected fall. Smaller breeds like Pomeranians and Italian greyhounds are more likely to suffer radial or ulnar fractures, while larger breeds in general are prone to injury after slipping.

Safety tips for senior dogs

Unfortunately, older dogs’ bodies just aren’t as capable of generating enough momentum to avoid a fall on a slippery surface. The best way to keep your elderly pup safe and stable is to keep them off slippery floors altogether, limiting them to soft carpeted rooms whenever possible.

If there aren’t a lot of carpets in your home, you can also try taking your older dog on regular walks around the neighborhood to maintain their mobility and overall fitness.

🚨 See a vet if your senior dog finds it tough to get around the house. Due to their age, they’re more likely to be suffering from underlying conditions that affect their stability.

12 ways to stop your dog from slipping and sliding in the house

While one of the best ways to stop your dog from sliding around the place is to keep them in good physical shape, there are several other solutions you might want to consider. Here are our favorite solutions for slipping and sliding, from paw products to simple household solutions.

1. Repair dry or cracked paw pads

If your dog’s paw pads are dry and cracked, they’ll struggle for purchase on any surface. One of the best starting points to stop your pup from slipping and sliding is a solid paw balm. Paw balms are designed to soothe and repair cracked paw pads.

Some of our personal favorites are “pawtection” products by Natural Dog Company, which have hundreds of five-star reviews, come in various sizes and combinations, and are made in the USA from organic, natural ingredients.

Similarly, the Bodhi brand paw balm is suitable for cats and dogs, made by a family-owned company in the USA, and gentle enough for sensitive skin. Musher’s beeswax formula is great for healing chapped paw pads.

💡You can even make paw balms at home. 🐾

2. Get a grip with paw grips or toenail grips

If you want a product that doesn’t need reapplying so often, paw grippers are essentially stickers for your dog’s paw pad with anti-slip grips that will help your pup keep their balance. We like these Aqumax adhesive paw grips because they’re non-toxic, easy to apply, and sticky yet pliable.

Similar to paw grips, toenail grips are non-slip grips that fit over your dog’s toenails. They allow your pup to grip when they flex their nails, something they can’t usually do on hard surfaces. While toe grips such as Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips are a bit fiddly to put on, they are reusable and work well for arthritic or senior dogs, too.

3. Trim nails and hair

This one’s self-explanatory. Imagine you’re trying to walk around the house wearing fuzzy socks. It wouldn’t be so easy to stop yourself from slipping. By keeping your dog’s paw hair trimmed short, you can help stop them from sliding so much on slippery surfaces. The same goes for those nails. While dogs use their nails to grip properly, they must be a healthy length for correct posture and positioning. Keep a professional nail grinder handy so your pup is safe while trimming their nails and hair at home.

4. Fit them with booties or socks

First of all, these will make your dog look super cute.  Second, they’ll help stop the slipping and sliding around your home. Dog socks, like these by EXPAWLORER, are designed with non-slip pads and secure hook-and-loop fastenings to keep your pooch from slipping indoors.

If you’d prefer to get something your dog can use outdoors, we also love this waterproof shoe, good for hiking or slippery winter days.

👉 Does your dog hate wearing socks or dog boots? Work up to wearing all four by putting them on one at a time and rewarding your pooch with a treat for each foot. 🧦

5. Use a support sling

Older dogs tend to have a tough time getting up on hardwood floors. If you have your pup wear a dog sling, you can give them a helping hand when they need to stand up. We love this rear support harness from PetSafe for its breathable mesh straps, sturdy lifting handle, and unobtrusive design. Your old dog will barely notice they have it on their back legs. Plus, it comes in two different sizes. Here’s another option by Kurgo:

6. Assess your dog’s food

No matter what age your dog is, providing them with nutritious, vet-formulated dog food is a great way to keep their weight down and ensure they’re getting the right vitamins and minerals to help their joints and ligaments. Be sure to provide your pooch with a steady supply of fresh, cool water, and look for dog foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, essential proteins, and natural anti-inflammatory ingredients.

7. Get them back in shape

Store-bought solutions aside, one of the best ways to stop your pup from slipping and sliding is to keep them in good shape. The more active and fit your pooch, the less likely they are to struggle even on slippery surfaces. Like us humans, dogs that are in shape are better able to perform the quick reactions needed to avoid slipping when they lose traction. Keeping your dog’s weight down will also reduce pressure on their joints and ligaments, while regular exercise will boost mobility.

Strength training is a great way to prevent muscle loss in older or injured dogs, increasing their muscle mass and confidence to help them walk normally across all kinds of surfaces. Strength training exercises can be as simple as walks around the neighborhood or a brief swim. Just be careful not to overwork your dog when exercising them.

When your dog needs physical therapy

Physical therapy is another option for dogs suffering from injury or age-related problems with their bones and muscles. While strength training focuses on building muscle back up, physical therapy teaches a dog how to reuse muscles to restore lost function. Because physical therapy is usually tailored to a particular dog’s health needs, sessions require supervision under a licensed professional to ensure specific methods and exercises are applied correctly.

👉 Talk to your veterinarian about formulating an exercise program for your dog based on their physical ability and fitness level. 

8. Try training for dogs scared of slippery floors

Scared dogs can sometimes get shaky and exhibit an awkward gait, which makes them even more likely to slip. Other dogs might be too scared to attempt walking over slippery surfaces in the first place. Little research exists on the impact of flooring on dog welfare but many veterinarians will examine a nervous dog on the floor versus a slippery examination table or weigh them on a scale with a non-slip surface.

You can help build your dog’s confidence by coaxing them onto a smooth surface and rewarding them with treats for doing so, or leading them gently across your hard floor on a leash until they make it across. Start in small intervals, walking them back and forth between a sturdier type of flooring, like carpet, and a slippery surface. As your dog gets more comfortable on the slippery surface, you can gradually increase the time you spend walking them over it. Never pull or punish them as you do so.

9. Put down mats or area rugs

One of the easiest ways to help your pup navigate smooth surfaces is by placing mats and area rugs around the house, especially on slippery or uncarpeted staircases. This is especially helpful for older pet owners, who can minimize the risk of falling for themselves and their dogs by investing in a quality non-slip area rug. Secure these mats and carpets with non-slip backings before letting your dog loose.

💡Place a non-slip rug in your dog’s favorite napping spot or near their food bowls. A yoga mat works great.  🧘

10. Install dog gates

Keep your dog off the tile floors altogether by using a dog gate. This is a good solution for pet parents with mixed flooring throughout their house, plus the space to keep their pup in a restricted area. However, if your pup loves the coolness of a tile floor, consider investing in an elevated hammock bed to keep them comfortable instead. Take a look at our list of 7 vet-recommended doggie gates.

11. Shop for new flooring

If all else fails and you have the means to do so, it might be time to replace your slippery flooring with carpeting. If you don’t want to deal with the stains, smells, and allergens carpet flooring often yields in the presence of pets, consider cork flooring. Cork is eco-friendly, antibacterial, non-slippery, and soft, which makes it a good flooring material for people with older dogs since it’s gentle on joints.

New flooring is not the most time- or cost-effective solution, so it’s only worth considering as a last resort or if you have several pets struggling on your slippery floors.

👉 Dust and debris buildup make wooden floors even more slippery. Sweep regularly and mop at least once a week to keep them free of grime and make them easier to walk over. 

12. See the vet

If you’ve tried everything in this guide and nothing seems to work, it could be that your pup has an underlying condition causing them to struggle on slippery floors. These conditions include:

  • Sprains, breaks, or tears
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal issues
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Inner ear problems, which affect the balance
  • Joint problems or pain

See a veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect your dog is suffering from any of these conditions. Vets can also help with a host of other problems that may be causing your dog to slip and slide. They can trim your dog’s overly-long nails if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself or offer an informed opinion on what may be causing your puppy or senior dog to repeatedly slip.

What to do if your dog is injured in a fall

If your dog slips or falls, monitor them for signs of injury, including whining, limping, difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, or a reluctance to stand or walk.

If your dog cuts itself after a fall, perform basic first aid: first, dress the wound by wrapping a clean towel over the area to minimize contamination. Apply gentle but firm pressure if the wound is bleeding; most bleeding stops within 5 to 10 minutes. Seek immediate veterinary attention if the bleeding doesn’t stop or you suspect your pup has sustained an injury like a broken bone.

Frequently asked questions

Why is my dog suddenly slipping on the floor?

Several things could be causing your dog to suddenly slip, including age, underlying medical conditions, and overly long nails. Dry paw pads are the most common cause of sudden slips and spills. When a dog’s paws are healthy, they have a spongy texture that allows for better contact with the surfaces they walk on. Cracked or dry paws can’t grip these surfaces as well, resulting in unwanted falls.

Do dogs slip more as they get older?

Not necessarily, but like humans, dogs’ bones and muscles tend to weaken with age. Limited mobility and achy, unstable joints can contribute to several problems for senior dogs, including more slips and falls. Older dogs are also more likely to sustain an injury when they do slip.

What causes a dog to slip?

Dry paw pads make it hard for dogs to get proper traction on the surfaces they’re walking on, while overly-long nails make it hard for them to bear their weight and walk naturally. Dogs can also slip as the result of underlying conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, sprains, spinal issues, or inner-ear problems affecting balance; or simply due to slippery flooring materials like laminate or hardwood.

Do dog paws scratch up wood floors?

They can. Wood floors can look dull and worn after just a few months of dog nails scratching up the finish. Reduce scratches by regularly trimming your dog’s nails, placing area rugs across the floor to minimize contact, or installing doggie gates to keep them off the hardwood.

How can I teach my dog to walk on slippery floors?

The best way to teach your dog to walk on slippery floors is with gradual exposure training. Use a leash to briefly walk them across the slippery surface, going back and forth until they gain confidence. As they get more comfortable with the flooring, slowly increase the time you walk them over it.