Picking the right flooring for pets can be a challenge. You may not have thought about the floors in your house when you brought your dog home, but the kind of floor covering you have makes a difference in your pet’s quality of life. It also makes a difference for you, especially if you’re the one who’s responsible for keeping the house clean. This guide goes over some of the most common floor types in the United States, looking at how suitable they are for dogs, with an eye toward helping you choose the right floor for pets.
What Makes Good Flooring for Pets?
Most pet owners have two main concerns surrounding pets and flooring—it has to be resistant to the usual pet hazards, and it should be safe for your dogs to be in contact with. Most types of flooring in the United States are safe for pets to walk, roll and sleep on, though you might have to be careful with jute and a few other natural fibers.
Anything that’s easy to clean is generally good, and the more durable the surface is, the better. For your pets’ comfort, it might also be a good idea to get something with good heat capacity, in case they like to sleep on the floor, or they don’t have a bed yet.
Floors to Avoid
Stay away from floors that soak up moisture or retain odors. If you go with a type of flooring that has a smooth surface, avoid soft tops that easily mar or show scratches. Also, anything with a low heat capacity, such as the concrete floor in your garage, could be uncomfortable for your dog. If you have to go with something cold, prepare a warm sleeping area somewhere that gets them off the floor when it’s time to curl up.
How Your Dog’s Breed Impacts Your Choice
The type of dog you have also makes a difference in the kind of flooring you should invest in. Big dogs, for instance, tend to be more resistant to the cold, while smaller dog breeds lose heat faster and may need special measures to stay warm in the winter. However, larger breeds tend to be heavier, and they can make bigger messes and more easily damage the surface of vulnerable floors.
Another thing to keep in mind is your dog’s personality. Some of the more nervous dog breeds are also prone to dig into carpets, which can make high-pile problematic flooring for pets.
Good Flooring Choices for Dogs
There are a handful of pet-friendly flooring options on the market today, such as vinyl, laminate, and some hardwood.
Vinyl is an affordable catchall choice for homeowners with pets and a budget. This versatile flooring choice comes in a wide range of colors and styles, installs easily and lasts a decently long time with basically zero maintenance. Pet spills and other messes are as easy to handle on vinyl as they can be on any surface, and biohazards can be sterilized with ammonia. Vinyl also tends to be gentle on pets’ feet, which is a consideration for some breeds.
Laminate is similar to vinyl, but you’re making a few trade-offs if you opt for it. It’s a bit more durable than vinyl, and as a rule, it gives better traction because of its textured surface. That same texture can be an issue for cleaning, however, since the distressed surface has a lot of nooks and crannies that can be hard to sanitize.
Tile is smooth and hard, which is ideal for easy cleaning and damage resistance. There’s a really wide range of tile types and patterns you can go with, so it’s hard to generalize about how comfortable it is on pets’ feet. Textured tiles offer decent traction, although Spanish tiles may not. Thicker tiles may also have a high rate of heat loss, which makes it worth the time to toss down a throw rug near the fireplace if your dog likes to nap there.
4. (Some Kinds of) Wood
Some kinds of wood are great flooring for pets, while others just aren’t. Bamboo is a fairly green choice that’s getting more popular than ever with many homeowners, and it offers a decent mix of good traction, easy cleanup and damage resistance that goes well with dogs of any size. It’s not a good choice for dealing with moisture, however, since it tends to absorb water and may swell up and deform over time.
Engineered hardwood is a durable pick, and it looks enough like natural hardwood that you’re getting a cozy, rustic effect for significantly less money. It can absorb some moisture, however, so if you opt for this, be sure to keep the surface protected with some kind of sealant.
Floors That Are Bad For Dogs
In general, you should avoid any type of flooring that will hurt your dogs’ paws or that’s too smooth to provide traction for them. Likewise, steer clear of anything that soaks up moisture or locks in the various pet-related substances you’re bound to get on them.
Natural hardwood is beautiful, and many people value it for its longevity and solid feel underfoot. It has its issues with pets, however. A wood species with a raised grain can trap particles and absorb moisture almost as easily as carpet, and some of the softer varieties are pretty easy to mar with dog toenails or other hard edges. You’re not entirely out of luck with natural hardwoods, though, since these floors are fairly easy to refinish and protect with a polyurethane or wax finish.
Carpet is still the most common type of flooring in America, and it has its merits. It tends to be warm, and the padding underneath it is nice and soft. You’re also not going to find a type of floor with better traction. The problems, however, are immediately obvious.
Carpet is perfectly designed to catch every bit of pet hair, dander and odor particles your pet can shed. You can somewhat mitigate this with low-pile industrial carpet, especially if it’s made out of durable synthetic fiber, though not many people go for it inside their private homes. Some dogs also like to dig at carpet when they’re nervous, which becomes a problem if it’s a habit.
Is It Worth Changing Your Flooring for Pets?
Of course, you probably already had flooring when you brought your pet home for the first time. No matter what type of flooring you have, it’s rarely worth the time and expense to pull it out and replace it with a more pet-friendly flooring option. If, however, you’re remodeling or it just happens to be time to replace the floors you already have, then it’s worth it to put some thought into what would be the best flooring for pets and whether you can make a choice that works well for both you and them.
You might also be interested in: The 5 Best Flooring Options On A Budget [And Factors To Consider]