Choosing Flooring with an Incontinent Pet

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Dear Home Ec 101,
When I bought my house 20 months ago it had ugly beige builders carpet through the living / dining room, hallway, and master bedroom. Inexplicably, the two spare bedrooms have hardwood floors. My plan when I moved in was to replace the carpet in the living & dining rooms with hardwood and leave the carpet everywhere else. I even went and worked overseas for four months to save up the money but I still can’t afford the wood.

Meanwhile the carpet is now stained and smelly from both general wear and tear and also my greyhound becoming incontinent and having accidents everywhere, especially in the hallway. So I need to do something. I really don’t want to replace with carpet, and I refuse to use laminate so it is down to wood-look linoleum or hardwood. What is the best/most durable/easiest to clean & maintain flooring choice?


PS. I have a slab home.

what floor works for incontinent pet

Heather says:

Every flooring choice has its pros and cons and I would consider trying to wait until the incontinence issue has been resolved. The current situation may be ugly, but it isn’t permanent and any new flooring may be damaged soon after installation. This doesn’t mean you have to live with pee soaked carpet.

If cleaning the carpet doesn’t resolve odor issues, it can be removed long before new flooring is installed. Back in 2007 we had a mold problem develop in the carpeting in our master bedroom, we got rid of the carpet, yanked the tackboard, pulled up all the staples, and lived with the sub-flooring for several months while we finished saving for the new flooring. Optimal? No, but infinitely better than living in a mold farm.

The faux wood floors you mention are laminate; linoleum is actually a flooring similar to vinyl, but made from linseed oil. There are also engineered wood flooring options that install like floating hardwood floors with a significantly lower price tag.

Although sealed hardwood is pretty easy to clean up, it is not impervious to damage by pet urine. If a pet urinates on hardwood and it isn’t cleaned up quickly, it can seep into the wood causing an expensive problem. The same is true for faux wood, urine can seep between the tiles / strips and cause permanent damage.

There are two options you haven’t mentioned. Home owners who live in slab homes have the option of painting or polishing and sealing their concrete flooring. If the incontinent dog is going to be around for several more years, this may be an attractive and easy-to-clean option.

Just like tile or hardwood, some people find concrete uncomfortable to stand on for extended  periods. Throw rugs, with non-skid backing, or a rubber mat can make a world of difference. In my restaurant days, when pulling double shifts we would sometimes break down cardboard boxes and use the corrugated cardboard as extra cushioning under the rubber mats. I don’t recommend this technique in your kitchen, though.

guide to clean floors
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All hard flooring does little to dampen sound within a room. Sound bounces off the hard surfaces, creating an echo effect. A large area rug can help immensely -I say this, as the sound of Hot Wheels, Tie Fighters, and princess shoes clatter around my living area as I’m trying to type. We need to quit waffling and purchase an area rug before my sanity frays any further.

Good luck, flooring is a major purchase and I commend you for doing research before making your decision.

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15 thoughts on “Choosing Flooring with an Incontinent Pet”

  1. I worked in flooring for many years and I can tell you that the only flooring that will stand up to this situation and won't be ruined over time is tile or vinyl. With tile, the only problem you would have is staining of the grout. Solid hardwood, engineered wood, and laminate flooring will all get swelling from the moisture and cupping will happen over time just as described above.

    Sue does have a point. There are products for dogs to wear however if floored's dog is like mine, he will find a way to rip this off. The other option is to "crate" your dog or provide an area with appropriate flooring in case of accidents and keep him there except for when he is being supervised by you. Crating is not a cruel thing to do even tho it feels that way to us but that is a whole other subject.

    Hope this helps and good luck.

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    • Yes I think the answer is to either replace now by putting down tile, or wait until the dog is gone or the problem is solved. It seems stupid to spend several thousand dollars just to have the floor ruined in the first few months its down.

  2. Thansk Heather!
    My 'faux wood' comment comes from when i was in an apartment, I had what I thought was going to be laminate when it was advertised but what I believe was vinyl. It came in giant sheets and was glued directly onto the concrete slab. If you didn't look closely it looked liked wood, and it was easy to take care of, but since there was no subfloor – it was very hard on the feet and cold in the winter (well what passes for winter in Houston anyway).

    I worked retail for several years and we also folded up cardboard boxes to stand on behind the register – the flooring was carpet glued onto a slab – no padding whatsoever.

  3. As a dog lover I have to ask: if the incontinence is caused by age or other medical condition, there are products available for your dog to wear to keep the 'accidents' localized. Is there a reason not to pursue that choice?
    My recent post Down in the mouth

    • What I am doing right now is using 'pee pads' not the acutal ones sold in pet stores, but the large adult ones that would normally be used to protect a mattress or chair seat. I realize this can actually encourage the problem, but since the dog is only hitting one area it's working for now. Yes, the next step is a belly band/doggie diaper. I just haven't had good experiences in the past with them when a dog has to wear them for 12-14 hours a day. The inside pad gets soaked and ends up chafing the dogs skin (think baby diaper that doesn't get changed quickly) so I have been putting this off as long as possible. As much as I don't want to do this, ripping up the carpet and living with concrete for a few months may be the best solution.

      • Our dog has struggled with this, too, due to age and the fact that she is territorial won't go unless she is walked at least a mile so she can spritz every tree. (We do take her on a long walk 3 times a day, plus extra short potty walks when needed, but you can't be constantly on a walk.) I didn't want to medicate her, but it was necessary.

        She is now on Proin. It's fairly cheap (about $30/month), she'll eat it with her food (tastes like a little beefy pill) and we have no problems. Very worth it. It's much less bother and stink than pee pads, and she is no longer ashamed of her dripping bum. 🙁 Ask your vet! It's not as big a deal as you might think. 🙂

  4. This happened to our Dog last week – it became incontinent and I was searching for good solution.Since the german market has no good flooring products I will now try some American ones and will see how it goes

  5. I am a dog rescuer who has fostered double digits of aged dogs at a time in my home. Its beyond incontinence here! One small recently neutered dog pees on a chair leg, then the next one marks on that, and round they go. I’ll spare you the details but its never ending for the last 30 years. I have learned the following. Sheet vinyl is great but be careful with seams..make sure installer knows what they are doing and use underlayment of luanne or other plywood for smoothness..make sure baseboards are plastic or washable and consider caulking at the bottom after floor has relaxed so urine doesn’t seem under baseboard into wall board where it gets sucked up.
    Lastly, i have a German Rubber tile floor in half my house..its no off gassing, using for infant NICU..glued to floor underneath which was concrete. This yellow and red floor is gorgeous. Everyone comments on it, and its so easy to clean. I can’t remember the manufactuerer but rubber floors are nice. Doggy day cares use them also. Tile is great but you have to keep sealing the grout. STained concrete is an option but cold. Consider sub-floor heating if you do concrete..the new electrical can be installed with a quick skim over of new concrete surfacing but you need a professional to do it. I also use weewee pads and installed doggy doors. Good luck.

  6. I am searching flooring options also. I must admit I think it’s silly were choosing flooring around our bad training if our furry friends.if she wouldn’t go inside we could choose whatever we wsnted.except cAppétit will smell no matter how clean they if u spill a drink or track mud.but I’m thinking concrete or tile.butting joints so not grout stain… I read if u seal the concrete they will lsst.depends on the sealer
    the article says polyurethane will keep it from staining or smelling

  7. We just painted our sub-flooring and it looks Amazing! Paint is the cheapest way to go. We laid down some washable rugs..all good.


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