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A Guide To Creating The Ultimate Bucket List For Your Aging Senior Dog

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on April 25, 2018

Facing the mortality of our senior dogs is a heartbreaking reality that inspires many loving paw-rents to create bucket lists on their behalf. While embarking on a final journey with your gray-muzzled best friend is a beautiful sentiment, be careful not to confuse the experiences you want to give your dog with the experiences your dog wants to have with you.

When planning the perfect doggy bucket list, it’s normal to imagine grand adventures and wish for limitless possibilities, but our dogs’ dreams are far more simple. An ideal day for them involves fresh air, good food and the contentment they feel when they are by your side.

Some of the most heartfelt doggy bucket lists feature seemingly simple items that perfectly represent the pups’ individual personalities. Take Elsie for example: She loved to shred paper, so her mom added “Shred Cancer!” to her list.

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For the Foodies:

If the highlight of your pup’s day is feeding time, a bucket list packed with pooch-approved delicacies is just what the veterinarian ordered. Contact a dog bakery and ask for a selection of treats based on his most drool-worthy flavors. Many human restaurants also offer doggy menu items – take a food tour of your city, or bring home a different surprise each day.

Chester indulged in a dog-biscuit-topped Pup Sundae from Bruester’s ice cream!

Change Up Their Treats (healthy of course!) We’ve previously written about why we love freeze dried single ingredient treats. Having a single ingredient treat is ideal for older dogs with allergies or food sensitivities, and also means less calories and carbs.

For Outdoorsy Dogs

They may not be up for a cross-country tour of the national parks, but they can certainly bask in the peaceful pleasure of an afternoon by the lake. Is your pal too frail to enjoy the long walks you once shared together? How about a golf cart/stroller/wagon ride along your favorite route?

Water-loving Buddy checked “Take A Boat Ride” off his bucket list!

For Toy Hounds

If your dog can’t get enough fetch or frisbee time, try a special toy experience. You could treat your pooch to a shopping spree, have friends and family meet you at the park with gifts of brand new toys, or take a page from Rocko‘s list. His friends at Maricopa County Animal Services made this fetch-fanatic his own ball pit!

RELATED: The 12 Best Toys for Senior Dogs


For Everyone

Remember to also address your own needs during this difficult time. The perfect bucket list should help you make peace with saying goodbye, as well as make your dog’s final days special.

Plan a family photo shoot. Take fun shots of your dog and everyone who loves him rolling in the grass and making silly faces. These are the images you will cherish most when you look back.

Create an art project together. Utilize those adorable paws to create a painting, clay molding or sculpture together. This is an especially great idea for kids.

Have a party. Nothing too crazy, just a gathering of friends and family to celebrate your wonderful pup and show him how much he’s loved.

A Sniff List. Dogs experience the world through scent more than any other sense. Take your dog on walks that allow him or her to smell new smells such as flowers or other plants. New smells also keep their mind active and engaged.

Cuddle every day. Make a commitment to hug, kiss, scratch and rub your senior sweetie as much as possible.

Just Be Together. Remember that an ailing dog may not feel like doing any of the above suggestions, and thats ok. We promise you that more than anything else, your dog simply wants to be around you in their final days.

Our dogs don’t need epic adventures to feel fulfilled. They are wise enough to know that the greatest thrill of all is being with the ones they love. It’s these simple pleasures our beloved seniors appreciate most in their golden years.

More Resources for Aging Dogs

Receive Our Free Newsletter Just for Senior Dog Owners!

Twice weekly tips to help your senior pup live longer & healthier. Plus get access to our private seniors only Facebook group!

Featured Image via Facebook/Chester’s Legacy

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