Aging Last Updated:

5 Steps to a Senior Dog-Proof Home

Reviewed by

Go to "5 Steps to a Senior Dog-Proof Home" article

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, meaning that Embark may receive a small commission if you make a purchase. All linked products have been reviewed by a veterinarian. 

As dogs get older, they undergo behavioral and physical changes. You may notice that your once-energetic dog now happily snoozes the day away and moves more slowly on walks. Additionally, senior canines can develop some health concerns that can affect their quality of life, such as arthritis, dementia, and vision loss. 

It can be saddening to watch your aging dog grow old and gray. While you can’t keep your beloved dog young forever, by creating a senior dog-proof house, you can help keep them comfortable and happy in their golden years.

Special considerations for senior dogs

From puppyhood to old age, dogs require special care at each stage of their lives. On the surface, elderly dogs may seem less demanding than puppies or young dogs. After all, the days of potty training have likely faded to a distant memory, and your senior dog may seem content with more couch time and fewer walks. 

However, taking care of a senior dog also poses unique considerations for pet owners. Aging dogs may become less mobile, and might not see or hear as well as they used to. Keep these considerations and the following five steps in mind to make your home senior dog friendly.

Five strategies to senior dog-proof your home

As you care for your aging pet, you may wonder how to senior dog-proof your home to make it more accessible and comfortable for them. Fortunately, with a few simple changes, you can transform your home into a senior dog paradise. 

1. Use floor mats to prevent slips

Senior dogs with mobility issues may struggle to stand up and walk on floors and stairs made from slick materials, such as hardwood or linoleum. To prevent your dog from slipping and falling, place nonslip mats or rugs on the floor in areas where they frequently lay down and walk. For example, setting a mat next to your dog’s bed can make it easier for them to stand up after a nap. 

These two mats can be helpful for senior dogs: 

  1. COSY HOMEER Edging Treads Non-Slip Carpet Mat: A tumble down slippery wooden stairs can seriously injure your senior dog. Avoid an accident by applying these non-slip mats to your indoor steps. While these rugs are rated 4.6 stars (out of 5) for adhesion, they also scored 5.0 stars for ease of removal, making them a practical choice that is easy to stick on and to remove. Customers note that the mats are comfortable on bare feet (as well as paws). The easy-to-clean rugs come in sets of four to fifteen pieces to fit any staircase. 
  2. LOOBANI 2 Packs Extra Large Reusable Dog Mat for Floor: As dogs age, they can develop urinary incontinence along with mobility issues. This set includes two large, anti-slip floor mats that absorb urine while preventing slips. These mats are highly rated for both absorbency (4.3 stars) and leak-proof qualities (4.4 stars) to protect your floors from indoor bathroom accidents, and they score 4.4 stars for being easy to clean. They are reusable and machine washable.

2. Slings can aid mobility

If your elderly dog has a severe mobility condition or is recovering from surgery, they may have issues standing and walking without your assistance. Slings can help you lift dogs of any size without requiring you to bend over and potentially injure yourself. It’s helpful to have a sling handy, just in case it’s needed, so you can comfortably move your dog in case of injury or illness.

Select an affordable and comfortable sling, such as: 

  1. Help ‘Em Up Harness: Veterinarians and rehabilitation specialists love this harness, making it our top choice. This full-body harness provides extra support for pets who need help with both their front and back legs. It is designed to be worn comfortably for long periods of time and has secure, durable handles to help you grip and lift your pet.
  2. HNYG 30-120 Lbs Large Dog Sling for Rear Legs: For a more budget-friendly option, this handy sling scores 4.7 stars for its value for money and can help lift dogs weighing up to 120 pounds. The sling supports your dog’s rear legs, making it easy for you to assist them around the house or outside for a bathroom break. The fleece lining will maximize your dog’s comfort and prevent chafing. This sling is rated 4.8 stars for sturdiness and durability and 4.7 stars for ease of use.

3. Keep food and water close

Geriatric dogs may have difficulty accessing their food and water. For instance, dogs with impaired vision can have a hard time locating their bowls, and dogs with mobility issues may drink less if they have to travel across the house to reach their water. 

You can solve this problem by keeping food and water close to your pet’s bed or usual resting spot. This simple step will limit their walking and encourage them to drink more frequently. 

4. Simplify furniture arrangements

Dogs with impaired vision or cognitive decline may struggle to navigate inside the house. They may get stuck behind furniture or run into walls, potentially causing injuries. 

Make it easier for your dog to get around your home by arranging your furniture so that they can’t get stuck in corners or behind the couch. Also, try to not make drastic changes to your furniture to avoid confusing elderly dogs with vision impairments, who may be navigating the space by memory. 

5. Keep senior dogs safe with pet gates

Pet gates are a staple for many dog owners, particularly when puppy-proofing a house. These barriers can also keep senior dogs safe. Use them to prevent access to dangerous locations, such as stairs and swimming pools, to keep your dog from getting hurt when you aren’t around. 

When shopping for pet gates, look for size-appropriate and sturdy options, such as: 

  1. PAWLAND 144-inch Extra Wide 30-inches Tall Dog Gate with Door: This tall pet gate is ideal for large senior dogs or wide-open spaces. The extra width allows you to place the gate across a pool deck or around the top of stairs. Also, the freestanding design means that you can easily move the gate around the house to keep your dog safe in multiple locations. 
  2. Carlson Lil Tuffy Metal Expandable Gate: Suitable for more limited budgets, small dogs, or small homes, the Carlson gate offers a sturdy gate at a reasonable price. This 18-inch tall pet gate keeps small dogs contained and safe, while also allowing human family members to step over it easily. Additionally, the gate can expand to accommodate openings between 22 and 38 inches wide, so you can block off doorways and staircases.

Creating a senior dog-proof home

By following these simple tips to senior dog-proof your home, you can accommodate your pet’s changing needs. Providing attentive and compassionate care for your elderly dog will help ensure that they stay as comfortable and happy as possible in their golden years. Learn more with our veterinarian tips for senior dog care to keep your dog healthy as they age.

Writer Dr. Brianna Anderson smiles at the camera while standing in front of a lake.

Brianna Anderson, PhD Contributor

Brianna Anderson is an educator, editor, and freelance writer. She teaches writing classes at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in English from the University of Florida, where she specialized in children's literature, digital writing, environmental literature, and popular culture. There, she served as the managing editor of the academic journal ImageTexT. She also holds a BA and MA in English.

Read more about Brianna Anderson, PhD

Related categories

Aging Dog Care

Shop dog DNA tests