Dogs and Hardwood Floors

Are dogs and hardwood floors compatible? Is it possible to dog proof hardwood floors? What about dogs slipping on wood floors or hardwood floor pet stain removal?

These are common questions of pet owners ... and we do our best to answer them.

Are Dog and Hardwood Floors Compatible?

Dogs can do a lot of damage to any style of flooring.

Their claws can scratch, tear and plunder. Their urine and other bodily fluids can smell and stain. Dogs produce or stir up a great deal of dust, dirt, dander, shedding, fleas, ticks and odor you wouldn't have to deal with in a pet-free home.

So as a dog owner, your flooring choice should reflect two main factors:

  • Ease in cleaning and repair
  • Health of your family

With those criteria in mind, are dogs and hardwood floors compatible?

Did You Know?

Our beloved pets favor lounging on the insulating effects of hardwood floors ... which keep your rooms cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter!

Let's review a few different flooring materials and consider pros and cons.

Dogs and Carpet

Carpet confines animal dander, shedding, fleas, ticks, dust and dirt, and odor.

Urine stains are extremely difficult to clean and really never go away. They soak into the backing and pad of the carpet. They lurk where you can't see them.

In addition, dogs have oils on their skin and in their fur that can transfer to the carpet and cause damage or discoloring.

Dogs commonly have a habit of "digging" on softer surfaces like carpeting, blankets, couches, the lawn, even your lap if they can fit on it (and doesn't every dog think he/she is a lap dog?!).

With a dog in the house, there is a much greater certainty that the carpet will wear faster and need to be replaced sooner, apart from the spots of dog damage here and there.

Dogs and Laminate

It is easy to wipe up dog urine on a laminate floor. It typically won't seep through unless it is left to sit for a long period of time. But if that happens, the floor may bubble.

The drawback to laminate is that it is permanently damaged by scratches, chips, dents and bubbling made by dogs and cats. You can't fix it. It needs to be replaced.

And here's a tip if you are considering purchasing laminate flooring. Check into the specifics of the warranty. Often, the manufacturer won't guarantee the floor if you have pets.

Vinyl flooring might be a better choice for pets.

Dogs and Engineered Wood Floors

Engineered wood flooring consists of solid hardwood sandwiched between sheets of laminate.

The top layer of finish on engineered wood flooring can be sanded down, and then recoated, to repair dog scratches and other damage.

But this process can only be completed one to three times. And then the floor will need to be replaced.

Also, be sure to wipe up dog urine immediately as it can soak into the seams and permanently warp the floor.

Engineered wood flooring is low on the pet-friendly list according to industry experts.

Dogs and Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors sustain the same use and abuse by dogs as carpeting or any other flooring, but:

  • Hardwood Floors do not confine dog allergens, hair, dust or odor.

  • Moisture damage from dog urine can occur on hardwood floors just like any other flooring; however, hardwood floors are the only type that can be fully restored to look like new again, in most cases, with a sand and refinish.

  • Likewise, dog scratches and other surface damage can be sanded and refinished ... as many times as is needed, for generations of dogs.

It is true, however, that solid hardwood flooring is sensitive to a dogs claws, and the dirt and grit they may drag into the house. Owning dogs and hardwood floors does require some precautionary measures.

Other flooring tends to reveal unsightly stains, damage and wear. Hardwood doesn't highlight little dings, dents, and nicks like other flooring. In fact, if they are noticeable at all, they add to the character and charm of the wood.

Floors, just like the homes they are installed in, are meant to be used, enjoyed, and lived on.

Dogs and hardwood floors really are a healthy and practical choice for homeowners.

Dogs and Hardwood Floors Tips

Hardwood Floor Pet Stain Removal

If you catch pet urine before it has soaked through the urethane finish into the raw wood ... you can simply clean your wood floors with the hardwood floor cleaner your manufacturer recommends (so as not to void the warranty).

There are products on the market that claim to remove hardwood floor pet stains, but that's just marketing. If a warranty is no longer a concern, choose from the hardwood floor cleaning products we suggest. This should remove the odor as well.

Hardwood floor pet stain removal is, unfortunately, not a possibility with any product, tip or trick. If the wood is discolored ("stained") or warped - and a hardwood floor cleaner does not remove it - then it is most likely that the urine has penetrated the finish to soak into raw wood.

It does damage just like water or any other liquid that has seeped past the barrier of the finish.

Imagine an unfinished 2x4 soaked with cat or dog urine. Eventually, the wood may dry out. But there really is no way to remove the urine from deep inside the wood, repair any warping, splitting or cracking, or remove the stain.

This may be the state of a urine-stained hardwood floor. It will require a sand and refinish to repair. This may be difficult to do for a small area. But if you don't repair it right away, keep in mind that this area of your flooring is probably exposed to other dangers as well - since the finish is worn.

Normally, a polyurethane finish does a good job of protecting your flooring. Be proactive about wiping up pet urine as quickly as possible.

It also helps to keep the humidity level in your home within the manufacturer's recommendation to help minimize gapping. Gaps - when bare wood may be exposed - occurs when the individual boards in your flooring shrink and expand depending on the amount of moisture in the air.

A humidifier can help.

Dogs Slipping on Wood Floors

Dogs slipping on wood floors, and other hard surface floors, can cause your pet anxiety. It can also scratch your floor surface.

It may take some creativity on your part to work with your dog on this. Whether it's traction socks, training or a runner on top of a rug pad that won't harm your urethane finish.

Dog Proof Hardwood Floors

There's really no way to "dog proof" hardwood floors, or any floor for that matter. But you can definitely be proactive about protecting your flooring.

1.) Clip your dog's nails regularly.

2.) Wipe up urine as quickly as possible.

3.) Keep water bowls off the floor (use a rug, wood floor mat or raised dog bowls)

4.) Place an area rug at doors in and out of the house entrance your dog uses frequently.

5.) Use an area rug or oversized dog bed as the "play area" where your dog can play with chew toys, bones, etc.

Dogs and hardwood floors can get along just fine, with no more effort than you would want to make for other flooring materials, but with some definite benefits.


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