We have received a few questions about what exactly gives a dog traction. Is it the paw pads or the claws/toes and why is PawFriction the best product to help stop sliding on hardwood and other smooth floors? The paw pads are constantly giving a dog traction, which stops slipping and sliding. The toes or claws act like rudders, stabilizing the dog when they are running or turning by virtue of being able to dig into the environment or grip as a response to sliding. There are many blogs that claim the toes/nails are responsible for most, if not all the traction, and have claimed that products used to increase paw pad traction are flawed in their mechanisms. This is absolutely not the case. However, you don’t have to take our word for it, we have a tendency to be biased…so let’s go to the experts!
There was a recent study released that looked at the physics of the dog foot and how paw pads work. What they determined is that the outside layer of the paw pad was composed of thousands of “spikes” of tissue. These spikes are biomechanically adapted to increase traction. Here is a section taken directly from their study: “The bottom part of the stratum corneum is in direct contact with the ground surface during locomotion, and is composed of the hardest material (Young's modulus E ≈ 6MPa, Luboz et al., 2014) among all the three layers presumably to endure the tremendous pad-ground wear, friction and impact during locomotion (Meyer et al., 1990; 271 Luboz et al., 2014).” (Maio et al. 2016). Here is a link to that study if you would like to read more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769641/.
We aren’t arguing that the toes grip and help with traction but this is only important when dogs are trying to run and turn abruptly or when they feel like they are slipping. If they feel like they are slipping, they react by trying to sink their nails into whatever they are standing on. If they don’t slide, they don’t try to grip with their toes.
So what happens to dogs as they age and why do they start slipping? Well, we know it isn’t because of the nails. Many of us keep our dog’s nails so short they cannot even touch the ground - if the nails were the most important mechanism of traction then these dogs could never walk. In fact, we think the mechanism of older and disabled dogs slipping so easily on floors is a lack of muscle mass and hardening and/or smoothing of their paw pads. As a veterinarian, when I designed PawFriction, we started to examine older dogs and found so many of their paw pads were smoother and harder than those of their younger counterparts. Go ahead…if you have an older dog that slides take a look and you will see what we are talking about.
So why is PawFriction the best product for the job? Unlike any other product on the market, it restores the traction surface directly to the paw pads which restores and improves the natural mechanism that keeps dogs from slipping.