Okaw Veterinary Clinic LLC

140 West Sale Street
Tuscola, IL 61953



Decorating for Pets & People


Over time we all need to repair, renew or even just refresh our homes. Sometimes this may be a full out redecorating or remodeling task. It is a lot of fun to pour over "House Beautiful" and "Pottery Barn" catalogs drooling over beautiful pages of pristine flooring, upholstered furniture and newly decorated walls. Maybe you don't, but occasionally I do! It may be hard to imagine living in some of those picture perfect homes when you have pets. Can that sofa hold up to two dogs sleeping at either end all day while you are at work?Is there room on that desk top for the cat to stretch out next to your work rather than on top? It can be possible to have that look with minimal wear and tear on yourself and your pets. Being a veterinarian I am putting the emphasis on your pets here. There are various choices in flooring and other decorating items that can be easy on you but not your pets. Luckily there are beautiful, functional choices that are both easy on you and your pets. Like anything worth doing well, you have to have a little knowledge and know where to go for good help and products.

I want to focus on flooring in this article. First of all, when you have pets of any kind, you will have some kind of accident, no matter the age of your pet. Pets can't let themselves out to toilet when diarrhea strikes or they have a bladder problem. So messes will happen. Non absorbent  flooring is best for the areas your pet will spend most of the time. There are many choices and they all have good points and bad points.Here is some help for you.

As a veterinarian, I see pets that have become accustomed to walking, sleeping and playing on vinyl, carpet or older hardwood. Then after remodeling is finished, there is the rude awakening to slick laminate flooring. Laminate is a very good flooring product for many reasons.It is relatively easy to install, quiet, easy on our feet, can be damp mopped and comes in many colors. From the pet's perspective there are some problems. Laminate is slick, and hard for a dog's pads to get good contact. The dog's nails typically skate right across the floor. This is like walking on the sidewalk after an ice storm.It is more difficult for a dog to get good traction on the floor even when it is dry.In small breed and young dogs this is not too bad. They may take a fall or slide around, then figure out how to walk slower or with more weight on the back legs to maneuver on the laminate. Older and large breed dogs tend to have more trouble walking on laminate. The larger body size makes it more difficult to maneuver over a slick surface.Many large dogs have had their back legs splay out like a cheerleader when turning suddenly or running into a room with laminate. Some dogs may even fall or stumble and hurt themselves.At this point, the dog may avoid walking on the laminate flooring altogether. Pets clearly feel the difference between the laminate and other flooring. I have had clients ask why their dog is barking or whining at the entry to the kitchen after replacing the floor with laminate. It is because there may have been a fall that caused pain or it is just too hard to make it across the slick surface. They want your help to get them across. You can put a runner or area rugs down to give the dog a path to walk on, but this may be defeating the purpose of putting down the laminate. Now you may be resenting your dog's need for the runners, or bothered by having to help your dog to relearn walking across the kitchen floor.

Cats either love the laminate or have trouble too. Since the laminate is so slick, some cats like to go racing through the house and take a belly flop sliding along the floor for fun. Now this may not be fun for you the human as you are trying to walk across your kitchen with your hot coffee in the morning. Sometimes it is difficult for a cat to jump on a counter or feeding station because the slick floor causes their back legs to slide out. The cat then does not get the full power of the jump and may miss the edge, falling to the floor. At this point the cat will typically meow woefully below the counter for you to pick them up and help them out. This is where you start to wonder why your cat is going crazy. But is it?

There are other flooring choices that can give you the wood look without the upkeep or cost.Wood imitation vinyl is a very good product.This is not the sheet vinyl that is printed, but actual strips of vinyl that are textured and fully colored to imitate wood very closely.  I saw this in a nursing home and had to touch the floor to believe it was not real wood or laminate. I thought "This stuff has to be pretty good to stand up to wheelchairs and all the wear and tear at a nursing home!"  This seemed to be a good choice where there would be a lot of traffic, and possible accidents. So, I talked to Liam O'Sullivan at Custom Flooring and Acoustics in Champaign, and Stephanie resident interior designer at Tuscola Do it Best Home Center to learn more about the flooring. Some facts that came out of our conversation was that the vinyl is directly glued down, preventing fluids from being able to seep through joints as easily as compared to wood or laminate. This is a big help when accidents cannot be cleaned up immediately. The backing of the laminate is wood, so urine can seep through the joints and be very difficult to get out. This will increase odor retention in laminate adding to housebreaking problems. So for older pets, sick pets or puppies the vinyl will be best. This type of vinyl is also very scratch resistant - great if you have large dogs with big nails. Installation and material costs are similar to better grade laminates so it fits into many remodeling budgets.  

Other flooring choices that can be considered are ceramic tile that has some texture to it. The grout has to be considered for accidents as well, although it can be sealed. Tile is hard - watch out for dropping dishes - but the slip resistance and scratch resistant to nails is very good.Installation can be more expensive for ceramic tile, but it is extremely durable.

You can always look at areas in your home for traffic, how you and your pets live and talk to a flooring specialist before you make the time and money investment in flooring. It may be best to use a combination of flooring products picking the best looking and functioning product for the area while still getting a great look. You can reach Liam O'Sullivan (217) 356-8742 or Stephanie at Do it Best at (217) 253-8044. Give us a call at (217) 253-3221 or email us and we can help you think of what your pet needs for a beautiful home as well. Comment on this and other articles at my blog "Know your pet."

- written by Dr. Sally Foote

Okaw Veterinary Clinic
140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953
(217) 253-3221


Mon & Fri 8 am - 6 pm
Tues & Wed 8 am - 5 pm
Sat 8 am - noon
Closed Thurs & Sun

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