How to Protect Wood Floors from Pets

No matter how much you love your four-legged friend, you probably hate the scratches those adorable little paws leave on your wood floors. As a renter, these scratches are not merely unsightly, but they can also cost you big bucks when your landlord notices.

How to Protect Wood Floors from Pets

Finding a pet-friendly rental can be hard enough. Put these tips to use when protecting your wood flooring:


If your four-legged friend has an accident on your hardwood floors, start cleaning right away. The longer you let the mess sit, the more it will eat away at the wood. The faster you act, however, the less risk there is of staining, warping, and other unpleasant effects.

How to Protect Wood Floors from Pets - Clean Accidents ASAP

Wiping with a damp towel and then rubbing dry should suffice for quick clean-ups. When you’re going in for a deep clean— the kind you should be doing every couple of months– use a wood cleaning product recommended by the flooring manufacturer (or ask an employee at a retail flooring store if you’re uncertain).

Avoid cleaners with wax or petroleum bases, as they can actually damage the finish. You should also be wary of products with vinegar, ammonia, or oil soap, since these chemicals can make the flooring look dull and eat away at the finish.


Nail caps are nifty little covers made of soft plastic that you place over your dog’s nails to prevent scratches.

How to Protect Wood Floors from Pets - Try Nail Caps

They take on the form and appearance of the actual nail, so your kitten or pup will most likely not even notice they’re wearing them.


One of the most effective ways to avoid scratches is to teach your canine to stay off your wood floors altogether. You can use baby gates to keep your dog from entering certain rooms as you work through the training process.

How to Protect Wood Floors from Pets - Train Your Dog

This option, however, may only be practical if only a small portion of your apartment contains hardwood flooring.


Use area rugs and runners to protect wood floors in parts of your home where dog traffic is heavy. Be sure to place rug pads underneath to keep the rug in place and prevent scratches from the rough underside of the rug.

How to Protect Wood Floors from Pets - Cover it Up

If the pooch often runs through the front hall to greet visitors, lay a long rug down to avoid scratches. Entryways are also good spots to cover, as they can collect mud and debris that your dog drags in after walks.

For a more temporary solution, such as after a big winter storm when your wood floors may need extra protection, lay down some vinyl tablecloths. These are relatively cheap, and ones with flannel backings can cover a large area without sliding around. Once it becomes too wet and dirty, gather up the tablecloth, throw it out, and replace it with a fresh one.


Your wood flooring may have a clear finishing coat, but this isn’t enough to protect it from your pooch’s dirty, scratchy paws. Apply a surface finish made from urethane or polyurethane to create a durable and water-resistant barrier that requires little upkeep.

How to Protect Wood Floors from Pets - Apply a Protective Coating

Proactively cleaning and protecting your wood floors from damage will make your life easier should you eventually decide to move out.