Our 9 year old Lab finds the hardwood stairs too slippery.
February 25, 2009 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Our 9 year old Lab finds the hardwood stairs too slippery. She's fallen a couple of times recently and it's hard to "spot her" her from below because coaxing her makes her even more nervous. Her eyesight has been failing for a long time (never was very good, we think) and the pads of her feet have very little traction.

It was discussed here but my wife is dead set against carpet runners (she hurt herself badly on some carpeted stairs). Painting the stairs different colours or attaching rubberized bullnoses is out too. I was wondering if anyone knew of any other solutions that didn't look too industrial. This stuff is just what I was hoping for but is expensive and the application sounds like a real chore. My next thought was to get some of that sandpaper tape for the edges. I know a baby gate will keep her safe but she's always slept upstairs with us and whines to come up a night. Is there any other product I should be considering?
posted by bonobothegreat to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's a shame your wife is dead set against a carpet runner. I wonder if the stairs she hurt herself on were carpeted with very plush, shiny carpet that made them slippery?

We have hardwood or tile throughout out house except for the stairs, because our dogs would really struggle with uncarpeted stairs. The carpet we have is inexpensive, berber-style carpet and it provides a nice grip for the dogs (particularly when they're coming down the stairs). I wonder if your wife would be open to a carpet runner that was very different from the kind she slipped on?
posted by kate blank at 8:17 AM on February 25, 2009

Would a rubber or vinyl runner work instead? I understand that your wife is hesitant, but the dog could really hurt herself on those stairs, and the runners are the best bet in my experience.
posted by crankylex at 8:28 AM on February 25, 2009

A jute, coir or sisal stair runner would be non-slip, simple and attractive. Would she consider that?
posted by maudlin at 8:33 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cork ? You can get tiles and glue them yourself.
posted by lobstah at 8:48 AM on February 25, 2009

While you are focussing on stairway solutions have you considered whether the causes for your Labs discomfort are more than the furnishings? Might it be that your dog has joint pain? Your dog's behavior sounds familiar. Our Labs always had hip and joint problems as they reached middle age. Have you talked to your vet? Hip and joint displasia and retinal degeneration are common to the Lab breed. Anti-inflammatory medication isn't a permanent cure but it can help. Eventually, if this is the problem, it'll get so painful the dog won't be able to climb or descend at all regardless of what material you have on the stair treads. Blindness is also possible. One of our dogs got so bad we had to carry her up and down stairs.
posted by birdwatcher at 9:05 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

How are the dog's toenails? That can make wood floors exponentially harder for canines, if the nails aren't well trimmed.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:17 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

They make little adhesive carpet pads you can apply to each step individually. Here are some examples. Would that be more acceptable to your wife? Some of them are rubber and not carpet.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2009

Dog shoes?
posted by wrnealis at 10:38 AM on February 25, 2009

Pad wax
posted by asockpuppet at 11:07 AM on February 25, 2009

I second the motion to talk to your vet about possible arthritis/hip pain. I would also like to point out that the notion of "can't teach old dogs new tricks" is bunk, and that it's never to late in life to try and convert the dog to sleeping in a nice crate downstairs, with a baby gate to keep her away from the stairs. I say this because I had an older dog that started falling on the stairs, and she pretty severely hurt her neck twice (injured disk, couldn't life her head without yelping horribly) before we went with this solution. She took to crating like a duck to water (and it's commonly a comfort to dogs with eyesight problems, which she also had).
posted by internet!Hannah at 12:03 PM on February 25, 2009

My solution was a to cut a piece of rubberized runner for each stair and tuck the one edge under a brass trim strip before screwing it down.
posted by vonliebig at 4:18 PM on February 25, 2009

My father's dog has similar problems, so he purchased dog shoes similar to what wrnealis posted. To his surprise, the dog loves them and the mobility they afford her. So there's one data point.
posted by darksasami at 5:17 PM on February 25, 2009

Thanks for all the the ideas, everyone. If I can't get a rubber or sisal runner ok'd, it might be time to face the fact that she's getting too old for stairs. We tried doggy shoes once before but it was more hilarious than practical.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:13 PM on February 25, 2009

I recently tried Paw Pads after our lab's surgery. A bit of a hassle to apply but not too bad, and it really helped her mobility around the house.
posted by txvtchick at 3:09 PM on March 3, 2009

Just to follow up:

We eventually settled on the sandpaper strips that were available for $6 a 20' roll at the Home Depot. They had beige and black. The black is best because it hides the dirt and actually looks pretty good with our oak stairs.

The dog was afraid of the strips and had to be carried down for the first week or so but now she's used to them and they seem to be working out really well. She has much more confidence.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:48 AM on May 18, 2009

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