It happened around two o'clock on Foxridge Road, just outside the city limits of West Little Rock.
The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office says the homeowner told deputies his stepson was in the living room on the couch when he heard the back door burst open and watched someone pour liquid on the kitchen floor before setting the room on fire and running back out the door.
Sleeping family members were then woken up when the stepson started yelling the house was on fire.
The seven dogs, including two English Bulldogs, had been inside crates in the kitchen. Their conditions are not yet known. One of them, a seven-year-old named "Obie" was said to have been most severely burned. The dogs were being treated at an animal emergency hospital near Maumelle at last report.
The family used a garden hose to get most of the fire out before a crew with the West Pulaski Fire Department arrived to help, according to the incident report.
The homeowner told deputies a five-gallon gas can had been left on his back deck that had not been there the night before.
The suspect is described as a man about 6'0" tall and 200 pounds.
A damage estimate was set at $15,000.