Anyone who has a dog or cat knows the benefits they offer. Besides the obvious joy and love, they give so much; pets have been linked to a variety of health benefits.[1] Acknowledging this is important, but it also must be taken into consideration that pets can sometimes become a fall hazard for elderly people.

The falls can be caused by either tripping over the pet or being pushed or pulled by a dog. To minimize the tripping hazard, it is best to make the pet move rather than trying to step over them. Training is necessary to have a dog that will be better behaved and not push or pull as much.

Another option for safety is to consider adopting a senior pet, they are usually calmer and do not need the work a younger puppy might need, such as being spayed or neutered, being house trained, and learning basic commands. And the surprise factor is not there, hoping that this cute puppy doesn’t get too big!

There are some things to keep in mind to reduce the fall risk:

  • Keep pet dishes, toys, and chew bones in containers when not used.
  • Place pet bedding out of the normal traffic flow area in the room.
  • Use nightlights to help see the pets in the dark.
  • Keep pet water and food bowls out of walkways and keep spills cleaned up.
  • Check around before walking to be sure where pets are, especially on steps and near doorways.

Enjoy the love your pet gives and the health benefits, but be aware of the possible fall risks!

Learn more:

Prevent Falls at Home with Pets. [Internet] Available from:

For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too. [Internet] Available from:

[1] Headey B, Grabka MM. Pets and human health in Germany and Australia: national longitudinal results. Soc Indicators Res. 2007; 80:297-311.