If you had to choose between pristine hardwood floors and your dog, we hope you would choose your dog. If you have to stop and think about it for a minute, you must have very beautiful floors, and protecting them from Bingo will be an obvious priority in your household.

There’s no reason you can’t have a dog and gorgeous floors if you play your cards right, which involves a three-pronged approach: Keeping Old Yeller’s nails trimmed, promptly and properly cleaning up any accidents that may occur, and keeping the feeding and watering area clean and dry.

The Pet Pedicure

No matter how big or small Fido is, his nails can do a number on your hardwood floor finish, and they can even scratch the surface of the wood itself, which will require sanding to even out. If you can’t teach your dog to stop running across the floor and sliding to a stop to greet you when you come home, or if you’re not willing to give up your nightly game of tug-o’-war, you’ll have to come up with another solution to keep finish and wood scratches to a minimum.

Enter the dog nail clipper. For just a few bucks, you can forego costly doggie salon visits and groom your pet’s nails yourself. You’ll know it’s time for a trim when you hear Spot’s nails clicking on the floor.

But don’t leave it at that. In order to fully protect your floors, you’ll need to do a little nail filing as well. You want the tip of your dog’s nails to be smooth and round rather than sharp and jagged. You can use a nail file or rotary tool specially designed for dogs, or you can use a dremel tool to shape the nails. You may also wish to consider protective toe caps for your pup, which slide over the nail to prevent them from coming into contact with your floors.

If your dog is a cat, you can keep her claws trimmed and smooth in the exact same way.

Urine Big Trouble

It’s probably inevitable that at some point, Daisy’s going to pee on your wood floor. You probably know that moisture is the kiss of death for hardwood floors, because it causes the capillaries of the wood to expand. Fat capillaries cause “grain raise,” which occurs when the swollen vessels in the wood are raised up above the rest of the floor. Grain raise can lead to the finish in that area rubbing off, and then your only option for fixing that one little spot is a complete refinish.

That’s one expensive dog right there.

If you don’t clean up the urine right away, you can also end up with nasty black spots on the wood that occur when the moisture gets under the finish and there’s no airflow around the accident site. These can also be the result of the tar paper beneath the floor bleeding into the wood. The unsightly black spots can only be erased by sanding them out, or in some cases, by sanding and then bleaching them. If yours is a prefinished wood floor, sanding out the black stains won’t be an option, and you’ll have to have the affected boards completely replaced.

So how do you go about cleaning up your dog’s urine to prevent these problems? Simple: Put a couple of drops of Ivory or Dawn dish detergent on a clean, damp microfiber rag, and scrub the spot thoroughly. Rinse the cloth, wring it out, and use it again to remove soap residue from the floor. Then, put a fan on the spot and leave it on for a couple of hours to thoroughly dry any moisture that may have gotten into the wood.

Drinking & Dining Dilemma

If you have no choice but to keep Lucy’s food and water bowls in the vicinity of your wood floors, you’ll need to pay extra special attention to inevitable spills and drips, which can spell serious trouble for your floor over time. I keep my dog’s bowls on a plastic tray that has felt pads on the bottom to ensure proper airflow underneath.

Got Pet Problems?

If it’s too late and you already have a damaged hardwood floor due to Buddy’s nails or his urine, contact The Floor Doctor today. We offer free in-home consultations, during which we’ll take a look, assess the situation, and offer the least-intrusive and most cost-effective solution possible. In some cases, you may simply need a recoat, which is pretty inexpensive and will leave the entire floor looking brand new. In other cases, you may need a complete refinish or a board replacement. Whatever the case, we have the state-of-the-art tools and high level of expertise required for getting the job done to perfection the first time.

Trevor Hayden is The Floor Doctor, specializing in restoring even the most difficult damage to your hardwood floors. Trevor has been working hardwood floors since the age of 11 and is passionate about staying on top of industry news, breakthroughs, and best practices. Armed with the best possible tools of the trade and a wealth of knowledge that comes from nearly 20 years of continuing education on top of years of practical experience, Trevor can restore your hardwood floors to their former glory.