Those of us who live with and love our pets consider them to be important members of the family. When choosing the flooring materials we use in our home, therefore, we should give careful thought to how they might affect the comfort of our four-footed companions, and how well they will stand up to claws, muddy paws and the inevitable pet accident. Whether you own a cat or dog (or both), few flooring materials are friendlier to pets and their owners than concrete. Here are a few of the reasons why.

1) They resist pet stains and odors.

When the pores in concrete are sealed with a protective film-forming sealer or floor finish, pet urine can't seep into the floor and leave behind lingering odors and stains. (See Six Common Questions about Concrete Floor Sealers.) While we always recommend sealing concrete floors, if your concrete is unsealed and urine stains happen to occur, there are products you can use to remove them that work well on concrete, such as Urine Off from Bio-Pro Research.

2) They are easy to clean.

When your pets shed fur or race through your home with rain-soaked or muddy paws, cleaning up after them is no sweat if your floors are concrete. Just give the floor a few swipes with a broom, towel or mop, and the mess is history. See Caring for Concrete Floors.

3) They won't trap pet dander, fleas or mites.

In addition to fur, pets shed animal dander (flakes of skin) that can aggravate allergies in people who are sensitive. Smooth floor surfaces like concrete won't trap this dander the way carpet will, making the dander easy to remove during routine cleaning. Concrete floors also won't harbor fleas or mites that your pet may carry into the home. (For more information, watch the video Controlling Allergens.)

4) They are nontoxic.

Synthetic carpets can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, as can some of the products that accompany carpet installation such as adhesives and padding. Some of the adhesives used under vinyl sheet goods and linoleum can also emit VOCs. Concrete floors, stained with nontoxic pigments, do not release VOCs that can be harmful to you as well as your pets.

5) They are scratch resistant.

Playful, rambunctious pets and their claws can really scratch up hardwood flooring. Concrete floors are inherently scratch resistant, and when protected with a good sealer or floor wax, they are virtually scratchproof. (View this chart comparing the performance of concrete sealers.)

6) You can heat them.

Because hot air rises, many homes tend to be colder at floor level. And since that's where your pets spend most of their time eating, sleeping and playing, the ability to warm up concrete floors with radiant heating will keep your pets comfortable while saving big money on your energy bills. And money saved is money you can now use to pamper your pets in style!

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