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Carpet Tips and Tricks for Dog Owners

We love our furry friends, but they can be a lot of work! They can also be hard on your upholstery, furniture, and flooring. Of course, if all we cared about was stain resistance, we’d cover all our floors in non-porous tile, but you don’t want your home to look like a commercial kitchen.

So what’s the best flooring for dogs? And how should you take care of your carpets when you have dogs around? Don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas.

Carpet is the Best Surface for Dogs

Carpet and dogs belong together. If you have a young puppy, you’ve seen how clumsy they can be — even though little dogs seem like they’re made of rubber, they can hurt themselves when they slip on hard floors.

With older dogs, the risk is that they’ll have trouble keeping their feet under them on hard surfaces. Older dogs are less steady on their feet, and some are even scared of hard flooring, knowing that they’ll have trouble keeping their balance. If older dogs do fall over, they’re at a much higher risk of bone and joint injury. And when older dogs need to lie down, they much prefer a softer surface.

Stain Resistance is Key

Obviously, you’ll want to potty train your dog, but accidents still happen. Even when your dog’s messes aren’t a concern any more, they’ll still track in mud, water, and leaves. They’ll knock glasses of wine and cups of coffee off of coffee tables.

There are lots of carpets that have stain resistant coatings out of the factory, which means that each carpet fiber is coated with Scotchgard or something similar before it’s made into a carpet. This type of coating is far more durable to wear and stains than the type you spray on after purchase, so ask about factory coatings when you pick your carpet.

We’d also recommend picking a level loop carpet instead of a cut pile or a cut-and-loop style. Level loop carpets can stand up to a lot more abuse than other carpet styles, so if you have an active dog that runs around a lot, a level loop or Berber type of carpeting is a good choice.

Cleaning Up After Dog Messes

If your dog does have an “accident” on the carpet, you’ll want to clean it up as quickly as possible. First, put a few layers of absorbent rag down over the stain, then press down by stepping on the rags or by piling heavy things on it to absorb as much of the liquid as possible.  Remember: don’t rub the stain, blot it.

If the rags become soaked, replace them and keep going until the stain is dry. Then spray the area with cool water and soak up all the liquid again. Repeat this process until there is no visible stain left, then let the area dry and vacuum it.

If you don’t find the stain until after it’s dry, you’ll want to start by thoroughly rinsing the stain with water to dilute it. If you can rent a wet vac, that will do the best job, since it forces water deep into the carpet and pulls it out again. Don’t use a steam cleaner, though — the heat from a steam cleaner will cause the stain to set more permanently.

Once you’re finished with the wet vac, apply a pet odor neutralizer so that the pet isn’t tempted to “mark” the spot again, then let the spot dry completely and vacuum it again. If the stain has stood for a long time and soaked into the pad underneath, you may have no choice but to replace that carpet.

Keep Messes at the Front Door

Of course, the best way to keep mud and water off your carpets is to not let them in at the door. Lay down a waterproof door mat in your entryway and keep a few “dog” towels to dry your pet off before they come in. It’s much easier to avoid a stain than to clean one up.

Be Diligent About Vacuuming

When you choose a vacuum, make sure you choose one that’s designed for pets. It’s not just marketing — getting pet hair out of carpet and upholstery can be especially difficult for some vacuums, which can become tangled or clogged if they’re not built for the job.

You should also look for vacuums that are HEPA rated. A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter has to meet very high standards for filtering small particles out of the air, which makes it especially adept at filtering pet dander. Even if you don’t have allergies, pet dander can aggravate asthma and cause itchy eyes and scratchy throats.

You should also vacuum at least once a week to keep your carpets clean. If you have multiple dogs, especially shaggy dogs, or very active dogs that get dirty a lot, you should vacuum even more. It’s a bit of extra work, but your carpets will thank you!