How To Mitigate and Treat Pet Damage on Hardwood Floors

While we all love our furry friends, pets can do serious damage to your hardwood floors. This certainly isn’t a reason to avoid putting hardwood in your home, however. Plenty of precautions can be taken to minimize pet damage and ways to treat and take care of your floors in case of accidents or scratch marks.

When you have a dog, especially a larger, heavier one, their nails can pose a big problem for your floors. Dogs tend to use their nails to either slow down or gain speed as they run around the house, leaving deep gouges and scratches in the finish of your floor and sometimes even down into the wood itself. Making sure to keep your dog’s nails trimmed and rounded so they cause minimal damage as they zoom around the house, as well as putting down runners in the areas they tend to frequent most (their path to any doorways, by their food, etc.) are two ways that you can protect your floors from scratches and keep you from having to treat and repair the floors constantly. You should also wipe the dirt and grit from your pet’s paws before they come into the house, which will help reduce surface damage.

Another way that you can preemptively protect your floor from these kinds of scratches is to make sure your floor has at least a few layers of finish. This way, when your dog begins creating scratches, it will only be scratching the finish and not the wood itself. This is much easier to fix, and you can simply add another coat of finish. For very small scratches, you may be able to buff the scratches out with sandpaper, making sure to move with the grain of the wood and not use too much pressure. If deeper scratches do reach the surface of the wood, you will need to sand down the boards and then seal them again. This is substantially more work, so it is best to try to prevent these types of scratches to begin with. Choosing a harder, more durable finish is also recommended if you have pets because it will be able to stand up to the wear and tear of your cuddly companions.

When pets relieve themselves on your hardwood floors, it can mean an entirely new world of problems for your floors. If pet urine is left for too long on the wood, it can seep into the wood and not only discolor the boards themselves, leaving unsightly dark stains, but over time, the urine will actually become more corrosive and the ammonia will cause a horrific smell that you will likely be unable to get out of the wood without some serious repairs.

In the event that your pet does urinate on your floor, be sure to clean it up as soon as you possibly can. In most cases, if you catch it quickly, the liquid can be effectively soaked up with paper towels followed by a disinfecting cleaning of the area. It is recommended to sprinkle baking soda over the area immediately after wiping the area, cover it with a cloth, and leave it overnight before vacuuming up with a soft brush vacuum attachment. You can also use a mixture of white vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:3 to help clean the area and remove the smell. Enzyme-based cleaners can help break down the proteins in the urine, which helps eliminate the odor. This can be done by using a mixture of the cleaner and hot water and mopping the surface of the area, followed by a thorough drying to prevent additional moisture damage.

You may find discoloration starting to take in the area. The wood may need to be sanded down and refinished to try to eliminate both the stain and the smell. If the stain is still light in color, you can sand down the finish and scrub the boards with wood bleach, and then refinish the area. If the stains have reached a dark color on the board of your wood, the most likely scenario is that you’ll have to replace those boards completely, as the color and smell will be permanently embedded in the area.

Pets tend to urinate in the same spot once they have marked it, so to prevent this from becoming a recurring event, you can take action to make sure your pets only go where they’re supposed to go. Make sure your cat’s litter box is always clean and has fresh litter, and that they have access to their litter box when they need it (experts recommend having one litter box on each floor of the house.) Also look out for territorial behavior with other pets, which can lead to intentional urination on your floors, and if the problem continues, take your pet to the vet to ensure they are healthy. Enzymatic cleaners, while helping to reduce odor from the floors, also repel pets from wanting to urinate in that area again. Blocking off the area temporarily so they can’t access it the next time they want to use that spot on your floor, and using the correct cleaning products to treat an accident can prevent them from repeating the action.

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