If the scraping of claws on your shiny hardwood floor makes you cringe, you're not alone. Don't start mourning your once-beautiful wood floors just yet, though -- there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage caused by your pet's scrabbling paws.
Cleaning and Coating
Keep your wood floors clean, especially near entrances and frequently traveled areas. Dirt and hair on the ground acts like sandpaper, gouging into the surface of the floor when your dog runs across it, according to Universal Floors. Hardwood floors have a durable coating that protects them from wear and tear, but it won't help much if you don't reapply it every few years. Consult the flooring manufacturer or distributor for details about coating their product.
Overgrown nails are the real reason that dog's are a nightmare for your hardwood floors. They can quickly turn into intimidating talons in a matter of weeks. If the dog's nails clack on the floor as he walks, they are too long. Take him to a professional groomer for a trimming or cut them yourself with "guillotine" or scissors-style nail clippers. Cut small piece one at a time so you don't accidentally pierce the sensitive part of the nail called the "quick." Because it contains a blood vessel, the quick is usually a different color than the surrounding nail, so stop clipping when the interior of the nail changes to a pink, gray or cream, according to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Carpet and Rugs
If your dog traverses the same stretch of floor many times each day, he will gradually scratch and damage the wood even if his nails are short. You can protect certain sections of the hardwood by placing rugs or carpet in these key areas. They also catch dirt and debris before it has a chance to get ground into the wood floor. If only part of the house has hardwood, you could simply keep the dog out of those rooms by installing pet gates or keeping doors closed.
Equipping your dog with thin rubber claw sheaths is a great, trauma-free way to stop your dog's nails from gouging the hardwood. The sheaths are marketed as "Soft Paws" and "Soft Claws," among other brands. Some grooming salons charge a small fee to equip the sheaths for you, although you can also order and put them on yourself.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.