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The essentials

  • Slipping on floors is 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.

Most dogs slip and slide on shiny linoleum, laminate, tile, hardwood floors, and other kinds of hard indoor flooring. This is a common canine response to surfaces their paws just weren’t designed for. 

But even though it’s usually the floor that’s to blame for this Bambi-on-ice performance, there are a few other reasons your pup might be having a hard time keeping its balance.

Why do dogs slip on floors?

Dogs can slip for a number of reasons, from dry paw pads and overly long nails to more complicated conditions including illness and injury. 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.

A note about slippery floors and senior dogs

Some older dogs’ bodies just aren’t able to maintain the strength and balance necessary 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.

🚨 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 great way to stop your dog from sliding around 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 to grip 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, and the Bodhi brand paw balm for cats and dogs, whose gentle formula is good for sensitive skin. Alternatively, you can try making paw balms at home using a few common ingredients.

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. 

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

Imagine trying to walk around the house with fuzzy socks on. It wouldn’t be so easy to stop yourself from slipping, would it? 

Applying the same analogy to your dog’s paws, you can help stop them from sliding around so much by keeping their paw fur and nails properly trimmed. Dogs use their nails to grip properly, and healthy nail length is essential for correct posture and positioning.

4. Fit them with booties or socks

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. 

Some dogs are uncomfortable with socks and booties when they first try them on, but you can help your dog work up to wearing all four by putting them on one at a time and rewarding them 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.

If you do opt to try a support sling on your dog, make a point to take off the sling at least every 8 to 10 hours, if not more frequently. While most harnesses are designed for comfortable use over extended periods, they can create friction that causes irritating hotspots.

I've never seen a leave-on type of harness, but they shouldn't stay on. Those doggies who need them are more likely to pee themselves, so it will get wet, causing skin irritation.

Dr. Erica Irish

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 healthy. 

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. 

Keeping your dog’s weight down will also reduce pressure on their joints and ligaments, while regular exercise will boost mobility.

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. This type of conditioning uses passive exercises to help dogs rebuild key muscle groups and 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.

8. Try training for dogs scared of slippery floors

Scared dogs can sometimes get shaky and exhibit an awkward gait, which makes them more likely to slip. Others might be too scared to attempt walking over slippery surfaces in the first place. 

You can help build your dog’s confidence by coaxing them onto a smooth surface and rewarding them with treats when they come or gently leading them across the floor on a leash until they make it across. 

Start in small intervals, and gradually increase the time you spend walking them over the slippery surface as they get more comfortable. Never drag your dog or force them in any way — this will just make things worse.

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, particularly 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.

10. Install dog gates

Use a dog gate to keep your dog off slippery floors altogether. 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 mesh hammock bed, which allows air to flow through and underneath as they rest for a cool, comfortable experience.

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.

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. A vet can conduct the necessary tests to see if your dog has one of these conditions and 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.

If your dog keeps falling without cause

In some cases, the problem may not be your floors but an underlying issue with your dog. If you’ve already tried multiple anti-slip solutions without success, an undiagnosed medical condition is more likely to be behind your dog’s slipping.

The following conditions make walking on slippery surfaces more difficult for dogs: 

  • Physical injuries. Damage to a dog’s muscles, ligaments, or tendons may result in stiffness and/or pain accompanied by a higher incidence of falling. 
  • Hip or hind leg problems. Conditions like hip dysplasia can lead to hind leg weakness that results in uncoordinated movements and loss of balance. 
  • Joint problems. Developmental joint issues cause joints to develop improperly. Degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis are caused by repeated use of the joints over time. Both types of joint problems can result in frequent slipping accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy, limping, and stiffness. 
  • Damaged nerves. Nerve damage in a dog’s back or legs can result in muscle weakness, twitching, shaking, and increased slipping. Dogs with damage to the radial nerve of the front leg may appear to drag the affected paw along the ground as they walk. 
  • Spine or disk problems. More commonly known as a “slipped disk,” intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) causes strain on the spinal cord that causes pain, nerve damage, and in severe cases, paralysis. Breeds like the dachshund and French bulldog are especially prone to IVDD due to the shape of their spine.
  • Vestibular disease. Colloquially known as “old dog vestibular syndrome,” this disorder causes a sudden disturbance to a dog’s sense of balance. Vestibular disease can be caused by an ear infection, damaged eardrums, trauma, or any other condition affecting the vestibular system inside the brain and inner ear. 

🚨 See a veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect your dog is suffering from any of these conditions. 

Getting old is just as much of a reality for dogs as it is for humans. We can’t stop our pups from aging, but we can do our best to keep them safe from harm by creating a slip-free environment in and around the house. 

Most people can’t just rip out their floors and replace them all with carpet, but these small steps will still go a long way toward making your dog feel more comfortable and confident.

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 due to underlying conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, sprains, spinal issues, or inner-ear problems affecting balance. It can also simply be 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.