Are dogs and hardwood floors compatible? The fact is, 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.

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

  • Ease in cleaning and repair
  • Health of your family

Let’s consider the pros and cons of the most common flooring materials.

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.
  • 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.

Indeed, carpeting is a ruff choice where your pets are concerned.

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.
  • Laminate is permanently damaged by scratches, chips, dents and bubbling made by dogs and cats. You can’t fix it. It needs to be replaced.
  • Check into the specifics of the warranty. Often, laminate manufacturers won’t warranty the floor if you have pets.

You might be barking up the wrong tree with laminate, but don’t worry. Vinyl flooring might be a better choice for dog owners.

Dogs and Engineered Wood Floors

  • Engineered wood flooring consists of solid hardwood sandwiched between sheets of laminate (see Dogs and Laminate).
  • The top layer of finish on engineered wood flooring can be sanded down, and then re-coated, 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.
  • Be sure to wipe up dog urine immediately as it can soak into the seams and permanently warp the floor.

Engineered wood flooring has gone to the dogs. Unfortunately, it is low on the pet-friendly list.

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. In fact, they are the #1 doctor-recommended flooring for allergy and asthma sufferers.
  • 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 to look like new … as many times as is needed, for generations of dogs.
  • It is true, however, that solid hardwood flooring is sensitive to a dog’s claws, and the dirt and grit they may drag into the house. Owning dogs and hardwood floors does require some precautionary measures (see below for some pawsitively pawsome tips).
  • 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.

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!

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

If you are a hardwood floor lover with a dog or two, consider this a new leash on life. Dogs and hardwood floors really are a healthy and practical choice for homeowners!

Hot Diggity Dog!

Tips for Dogs and Hardwood Floors

Just like any other flooring, take precautions and form new habits to protect your hardwood floors.

My Chipoo (Chihuahua Poodle) produced two litters of puppies – who learned to walk, were fed and played with and were potty-trained in a house full of solid hardwood floors.

Our flooring survived two full-scale (adorable) puppy invasions completely unharmed!

Chihuahua Poodle Puppy Litter on Hardwood Floors Emma - Dog - Playtime on Hardwood Floors
Rex - Dogs and Hardwood Floors Rex - Puppy Playmat - Hardwood Flooring

Pet Urine on Hardwood Floors

Catch pet urine before it has soaked through the urethane finish into the raw wood. Simply wipe it up with the hardwood floor cleaner your manufacturer recommends (so as not to void the warranty).

If a warranty is no longer a concern, choose from our hardwood floor cleaning products guide. This should remove the odor as well.

Is your dog prone to ‘mistakes’ in the house? Make it part of your bedtime routine, as you lock doors and turn off lights, to inspect your hardwood flooring for puddles and wipe them up. Have a bottle of Bona spray and microfiber cloth in hand.

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

Hardwood Floor Pet Stain Removal

There are products on the market that claim to remove hardwood floor pet stains, but that’s just marketing. 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 – the urine has probably penetrated the finish to soak into the raw wood.

Imagine an unfinished 2″ x 4″ piece of wood soaked with 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.

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

An extensively damaged urine-stained hardwood floor may 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.

Clean it the best you can, and if possible, cover it with an area rug or other decor until it’s time for maintenance.

It also helps to keep the humidity level in your home within the manufacturer’s recommendation to minimize gapping (a humidifier can help). Gaps – when bare wood may be exposed – occur when the individual boards in your flooring shrink and expand depending on the amount of moisture in the air.

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 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.

A strategically placed throw rug (with an appropriate rug pad) at the bottom of stairs, the entrance to your dog’s kennel or bed and other areas your dog may run toward or climb into can also help.

Dog-Proof Your Hardwood Floors

Okay, 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 over-sized dog bed as the “play area” where your dog can play with chew toys, bones, etc. It’s best to keep hard toys and treats off the floor.

Standard Hardwood Floor Dog Supplies

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

And that’s the end of our tail!