Are Hardwood Floors Bad For Dogs?

A small puppy sliding across a hardwood floor, careening out of control may look funny enough to make a great YouTube or TikTok video, but it’s really no laughing matter. While most dogs are able to eventually adjust to any type of flooring, hardwood floors are not the best choice for dogs.

The wood itself is not what makes this type of flooring bad for dogs, but the slippery surface of hardwood floors makes hardwood flooring difficult for a dog to manoeuvre, especially for puppies or ageing canines.

Conversely, the dog is not too good for the hardwood floor either. The dog’s toenails tend to scratch hardwood flooring. Not to mention, inevitable messes that are bound to occur with any pet.

However, don’t despair if hardwood floors are your first choice for your home. There are steps to take to protect both the flooring and your family pet. Don’t give up on your dream of having hardwood floors and your pet living happily and safely under one roof. But, be aware of some issues that you won’t want to ignore.

Safety and Health Issues for Dogs on Hardwood Floors

One of the most dangerous injuries that dogs are prone to encounter involves those incurred from a slip or fall. Of course, dogs don’t slip and fall as a human would. A dog’s body weight is dispersed differently than a human’s. Any slippery floor will prove to be a hazard to a dog, especially to puppies.

Potentially, a hardwood floor can cause the following issues:

Joint Problems

Puppies who have been raised on slippery floors are more likely to develop hip dysplasia and other issues. When the dog cannot get a good grip, it puts a strain on the dog’s joints. This strain can lead to bone and joint issues such as hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is the abnormal development and growth of a dog’s hip joint and is common in large breed dogs but can happen to any size of dog breed.

This strain on the joints can also lead to osteoarthritis or musculoskeletal problems. Other conditions are connected to slippery floors with dogs, such as carpal laxity syndrome.

Swimmer Syndrome

One of the most severe issues that dogs develop due to slippery floors is swimmer syndrome. If a puppy develops swimmer syndrome, the canine will not stand up and walk.

Instead, puppies with swimmer syndrome will move around the floor as if swimming flat on their bellies with limbs sprawled out to the side.

Slip and Falls

Maybe you’ve laughed at the sight of a puppy sliding across a floor out of control.

But, it really is a serious issue. When a dog starts running and cannot get a good grip on a slippery floor, they can slide into walls and furniture causing harm to whatever part of their body they hit.

Ageing Dogs

Older dogs have more trouble navigating a slippery surface. Not being able to get the necessary grip makes it difficult for them to stand.

Problems Dogs Can Cause To Hardwood Floors

Slippery hardwood floors are not only a potential problem for dogs, but the dog tends to be hard on the floors causing damage directly to the floor as well.

Scratches on Hardwood

Dogs tend to scratch the floors. They are not doing this out of spite. As they use their toenails to balance, it’s common for their nails to cause scratches to the flooring, and it can be hard to make the floor scratch proof.

Pet Messes on Hardwood

Even the most well-trained dog is bound to leave a mess eventually.

If you are training a puppy, these messes are going to be many and often. Or, if your dog is aging, there may be bladder control issues that will result in a puddle on the floor.

How to Handle Pet Messes on Hardwood Flooring

The most important thing to maintaining a hardwood floor with pets is to keep the floor clean.

Any dust or debris that is left to accumulate on the surface of the floor will make it even more slippery and hazardous for the dog. However, sometimes it is the dog who caused the mess.

To clean up pet messes on hardwood floors, the secret is to tend to the mess as quickly as possible. Sometimes, this is a problem when you are dealing with pets since the mess may happen when you are not there to see it.

This means, it will not get cleaned up immediately and will be left to sit on the wood flooring. If left too long, the pet urine will soak into the flooring and reach the subflooring, especially if the floor was not properly sealed.

If the pet mess has caused a stain on the floor, use hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, a vinegar solution, or a pet stain removal product that is recommended by the hardwood floor manufacturer.

You can also follow our guide here for removing urine stains from hardwood floors.

Helpful Tips for Dogs and Hardwood Floors

Don’t despair if you have your heart set on hardwood floors and don’t want to say farewell to your family pet. Here are some helpful tips for making hardwood floors work with a dog in the house.

  • Keep your dog’s nails trimmed
  • Use an anti-slip coating on the hardwood floor
  • Use an area rug
  • Place a mat or carpet runner in areas where the dog is prone to visit
  • Install floor mats by the entrances
  • Make sure wood stairs have some form of grip
  • Have your dog wear special socks
  • Make sure there is a mat or a rug near where your dog sleeps at night or naps throughout the day. Getting up on a slippery floor when the dog is groggy is an extra challenge.
  • Keep your dog healthy and at a healthy weight, extra weight on already strained joints will just make the problems worse for your dog.

Final Thoughts

Hardwood floors are not the best choice for the dog living in your home. Even though most dogs learn how to adjust to any flooring surface, the floors pose a slipping hazard. The dog is going to tend to be hard on the floor as well.

If they are not slipping and causing injury to their bodies, dogs tend to scratch or make messes on hardwood floors. Don’t feel as though you need to lay down carpeting throughout the house, however.

Follow these helpful tips for what adjustments to make to keep your dog and your flooring safe.