Do Dog Nails Scratch Hardwood Floors?

When you have hardwood floors in your home, you want to protect them so that they are beautiful all the time. Hardwood is made of solid wood boards, and they come from trees. Wood is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs water. One of the reasons why it is important to prevent deep scratches or dents is that moisture can get into the wood and cause it to swell and expand.

Dog nails can scratch hardwood floors, but they do minimal damage. As long as you see it and take care of it regularly, it shouldn’t do any permanent damage. If you have a large dog with bigger nails and the dog digs at your floor, you will have a problem. However, everyday use is going to be fine.

The Finish Protects Your Floor

Finish Protects Your Floor

When you finish your floors, you should add extra coats of polyurethane to make the floors more durable. Knowing that you have a dog, you will want to make sure that the floor is protected and can stand up to the wear and tear. If the scratches are in the finish and not the wood, your floors won’t suffer any damage, and you can sand and recoat the floor. This is much better than scratches that go into the wood, and it is easier to repair.


You can also choose a more durable finish if you know that you have a dog in the home. There are finishes that are more difficult to penetrate, and they are designed for high-traffic areas in the home. It will cost a little more than standard polyurethane, but it is worth it because it will stand up to your pet walking on the floor.

Be Sure to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

You will also need to trim your dog’s nails regularly. If you take your dog to the groomer on a regular basis, they probably already keep the dog’s nails trimmed. Sometimes people have it done at the vet’s office when they get their shots. You can also buy a pair of nail clippers for your dog, and you can maintain them at home.

When your dog’s nails get too long, they will escape along the floors. You can actually hear them when the dog is walking. Instead, make sure that you clip the nails when they need it. This can help to ensure that you never have any deep scratches in your floors.

Use Rugs in High-Traffic Areas

You will want to use rugs in any areas where the dog spends a lot of time. This will cut down on wear and tear on your hardwood floors in general. Rugs will not harm your hardwood floors as long as you use a rug pad that is safe, such as one made with felt or natural rubber. These materials won’t interact with the finish on the floor to stain it, and they will provide a non-slip surface that holds your area rugs in place.

Maintaining Hardwood Floors When You Have Pets

If you have pets in your home, you will need to maintain your floors to keep them looking great. The first step is to make sure that your floors have a proper finish on them. If you use a polyurethane sealant that is designed to protect the floors from scratches and stains, you will be better off. You can actually find sealant that is heavy duty as well.

Maintaining Hardwood Floors When You Have Pets

Take the precautions listed above. Use area rugs, and keep your dog’s nails trimmed. In addition, pay attention to your floors. First, you should clean them regularly. Make sure that you vacuum and sweep them to whisk away any extra dirt and debris that falls on the floor. This is important because dirt can act similar to an abrasive and rub away at the finish.

When you see scratches on the floor, it is more likely that they are scratches in the polyurethane finish. If they are light, shallow scratches, there are several different ways to address them, including the following:

1. Clean the Floors

Cleaning your floors can help remove superficial scratches on the surface from your dog’s nails. In addition to regular sweeping or vacuuming, you can take a spray bottle with a few drops of soap, add water, and lightly mist the floors. Then go over them with a soft mop. By doing this once a week, you will minimize the damage from your dog’s nails.

You can use non-toxic wood cleaners as well, but make sure that they are free of any chemicals that can react with the finish on the floor.

2. Sand the Scratches

If you find some deeper scratches that won’t come out with gentle attention, then you might need to sand them. The good thing is that the scratches are likely only in the polyurethane finish, so you can sand the section rather than the entire floor.

Take a piece of fine-grained sandpaper, and gently move with the grain of the wood to sand away the scratch. Once you finish, clean the area with a damp cloth. Then once it is completely dry, you may need to reapply the finish.

3. Try Baking Soda and Olive Oil

This is a natural remedy for scratches in your wood floors. Baking soda is a gentle abrasive substance, and you can combine it with a few drops of olive oil to make a paste. Then take a damp cloth and apply the baking soda mixture to your floor. Rub gently in the direction of the grain until the scratch is gone.

Then you can take a damp, clean cloth to wipe the floor clean. This is often a very effective method for removing shallow scratches in your wood floor.

4. Use Toothpaste

Another household product that can remove light scratches from your dog’s nails is toothpaste. Make sure that it isn’t the gel, and apply it to a cloth. Then gently rub the scratches, and be sure to go with the grain of the wood. Similar to baking soda, toothpaste is a gentle abrasive that can help rub out shallow scratches.

5. Rub Walnuts on the Scratches

You may not realize that walnuts can actually be used to rub scratches out of your wood floor. Walnuts contain brown dyes and natural emollients that can help. Take the walnut and rub it between the palms of your hands to warm it up and activate the oils. Then gently rub the scratches with the walnut, and go with the grain of the wood.

Let it sit for a few minutes before you wipe it clean with a towel. You can also try coconut oil as it has similar properties. You apply the coconut oil with a soft brush, let it sit for five minutes, and then wipe it clean.

Final Thoughts

People are often concerned that their dogs’ nails will scratch up their hardwood floors. It is true that they can do this, but you can minimize the damage. Make sure that you keep your dog’s nails trimmed, and use area rugs to protect your floors.

Devote time to maintaining your floors each week by cleaning them, and when you see scratches, address them before they turn into damage on the floors. You can use different household products to clean away shallow scratches, but you may need to sand the spots if they are deeper.