I hate to admit this, but I am not a terribly sentimental person. I usually just want the facts. However, last night Cody, my 11 year-old shepherd/collie mix was able to climb up on the couch for the first time in 18 months, to join my husband and me while we were watching TV. Cody hasn’t had the strength in his rear legs or the confidence to do this because of the Arthritis in his hips and the Inflammatory Bowel Disease that has decimated his weight. We held our breath as Cody pulled his tall, skinny body up on the couch hoping he wouldn’t fall backwards. Then Ken and I let out a sigh of relief as he found a comfortable place to lie down. The sight brought me to tears and smiles at the same time.
If you’re wondering what changed in Cody’s life to make him try this, you’re probably going to shake your head in disbelief. Cody was wearing little rubber nail grips called Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips for the first time. They are small bands that fit directly onto a dog’s toenail to give them more traction.
The product was developed by Dr. Julie Buzby, DVM, CVA, CAVCA to help dogs with mobility issues have more stability when they walk. It’s a simple concept with big results.
I became acquainted with Dr. Buzby’s ToeGrips after I couldn’t attend the BlogPaws Conference for pet bloggers this year. After the conference I saw story after story about ToeGrips on other blogs. It looked like a product readers would be interested in, so I called Dr. Buzby for an interview.
We had an hour long, passionate conversation about ToeGrips and how dogs with neurological problems, hind end weakness and spinal issues have a challenging time getting up off the floor and walking on slick surfaces. We both agreed these dogs were at risk for becoming frailer because they lose their confidence to stand, use their legs less and their muscles get weaker.
At the end of the interview Dr. Buzby offered to send a set of ToeGrips for Cody to try.
Putting Them On
I soaked them in rubbing alcohol like the instructions said and then slipped one purple XL band on each toenail. At first Cody was a little reluctant for me to touch this sensitive part of his body, but finally each of the ToeGrips was in place.
The rest of the day Cody acted as if nothing was different about his feet. He didn’t pull at the ToeGrips and they stayed in place. I even forgot he was wearing them until he decided to climb onto the couch.
How ToeGrips Work
I mentioned that Cody was kind of hesitant for me to put the ToeGrips on his toenails because they are sensitive. Well that sensitivity is why the nail grips work so well. Dogs know where they are physically in the world through their paws and toenails. Their natural biomechanics for gaining traction is to engage their nails (like little soccer cleats) into whatever surface they are walking on.
When medical conditions prevent them from naturally gaining this traction, dogs become unstable and lose their confidence.
The ToeGrips Story
Dr. Buzby was introduced to the idea of ToeGrips by a technician who worked with her at a veterinary hospital. The woman’s husband had placed small bands on each of their 16 year-old Australian shepherd’s toes to help her get a better grip on the hardwood floors in their home.
“As I heard what the grips had done for Morgan’s activity level and confidence, my mind raced with patients who could benefit from these little devices,” said Dr. Buzby.
She knew the product had to be developed because they worked so well with the natural receptors in a dog’s paws and the natural way they walk.
Most of us with special needs dogs have turned to doggie boots for help, but they may actually worsen the problem. Boots cover a dog’s sensory receptors. They can make it harder to maintain balance and for a dog to know how high to step. Boots can be helpful for dogs with injuries to their paws, but dogs with arthritis or hind end weakness need to feel the ground beneath them.
“Dogs instinctively know what to do with the ToeGrips. They gain confidence and that power changes a dog’s life,” said Dr. Buzby.
Four Benefits of ToeGrips:
- ToeGrips gives a dog the traction they need to stand and walk on slick surfaces.
- ToeGrips stimulates the sensory receptors in a dog’s paws.
- ToeGrips works with the natural biomechanics of how a dog stands and walks.
- ToeGrips builds stamina because a dog will walk for longer periods of time.
Dr. Buzby told me that ToeGrips have to be regularly inspected by pet parents to be sure they remain in their intended place on a dog’s toes. Once in a while they can ride up too high and cause irritation. And ToeGrips should be replaced about every 3 months.
It’s amazing to me how the simple concept of these nail grips have so many benefits. Our benefit was to have Cody curl up with us on the couch. In the coming weeks I plan to share more posts about the progress Cody is making with his ToeGrips.