You couldn’t imagine life without your furry friends, but your hardwood floors have seen better days, thanks to dirty paws, scratchy long nails, fur and sometimes even accidents. You can enjoy the beauty and convenience of hardwood floors without banishing your cats and dogs from your favorite rooms. All it takes it a little more vigilance and some extra precautions.
Lay Down a Protective Coat
The best defense is a good offense, and in the case of hardwood floors that means laying down a protective coat. Since hardwood floors are delicate, it’s best to rely on a professional to clean, prep the flooring and lay down the coat. A protective coat not only keeps the floor looking shiny and new, but it keeps the damage of moisture, fur and dust at a minimum. Call in the pros at least once a year, if not once a season, or any time animals have dirtied the floor.
Wipe Their Paws
The number one enemy of hardwood flooring isn’t animals, it’s moisture. Unfortunately, homes with animals are more likely to get moisture on the flooring than homes without. Keep a towel by the door and dry off your dogs’ paws every time you let them in. If you have an indoor-outdoor cat, wipe its paws, too. That means no cat or dog doors for animals’ free reign, unless you put up dog gates and keep rooms with hardwood flooring off-limits when you’re not around to supervise. Be extra careful to dry your dog after baths, too. Keep it away from all rooms with hardwood flooring for several hours, until it’s had a chance to dry off completely.
Keep Nails Trimmed
Scratches are nearly impossible to get out of hardwood flooring, but people without pets generally don’t have to worry about scratches if guests take off shoes by the door. However, dogs and cats have claws that scrape along the floor if they grow too long. It’s not only healthier for the pet — too-long nails can become ingrown and lead to bleeding and infections — but it’s healthier for your flooring to regularly trim your animals’ claws. If the pet won’t stand still for it, bring your cat or dog to a professional groomer at least once a month.
There’s an alternative to clipping nails so often, and it keeps nails from scratching even when they’re short. Nail caps are covers that stay on your pet’s claws for about a month with a harmless glue. They protect your furniture, too, if your pet likes scratching.
Lay Down Mats
Mats are the next best thing to protective coats. On the one hand, they don’t allow you to fully see and appreciate your hardwood floors, but on the other, they protect the flooring from nails and keep fur from falling and accumulating between the cracks. Plus, if the animal has an accident on the rug, you can remove the rug and clean it outside, while the floor was likely protected from the worst of the spill.
Work Fast to Clean Up Accidents
All except the best-behaved dogs will have accidents, and even cats sometimes relieve themselves outside of the litter box. If your dog or cat makes waste over your hardwood floor, act fast:
- Gather any solids carefully with a paper towel and dispose of them
- Dab the area with a rag or paper towel to absorb as much of the moisture as possible
- Sprinkle baking soda in warm water or use a hardwood-floor-approved gentle cleaner diluted in water
- Sponge the affected area
- Dry-dab the cleaning solution away with a towel
The Humane Society of the United States claims that 47 percent of American households own at least one dog, and 46 percent own at least one cat. If pet owners banned themselves from owning beautiful hardwood floors, almost half of the nation wouldn’t install hardwood floors in their homes, and most people aren’t willing to sacrifice either. Enjoy your time with furry best friend — just be sure to protect your flooring.