It’s no secret I adore older pets. The gray muzzles, wizened appearances, and air of experience just gets me every time. And, whether or not your aging dog is still going strong, senior pet life should celebrate your time together and give you amazing memories or things to look forward to.
Bucket lists can be a really fun and engaging way to enjoy your time together, create more memories and preserve them. But here’s the key - the bucket list for an aging dog or cat should improve both your and their quality of life.
Typically bucket lists are filled with wild and crazy things like skydiving, climbing the 14ners, and scuba diving in the tropics. And while some people might do these things with their pet, they can be too much for an aging pet.
I know when we had our three older dogs, I always wanted to take them on long walks but as they grew older, maybe it would’ve been better to sit in with them with some hot chocolate and watch a movie together while they nap.
When making your bucket list or picking things off your list, consider:
Mobility: As your pets age, they will become more stiff and can have joint issues just like us. So instead of doing things that require a lot of running, hiking, or walkling, maybe doing activities that are easier on the body are more ideal.
Temperament: Older pets are definitely more stubborn and stuck in their ways. This is how they’ve always done it and they like certain things and dislike others. So instead of forcing them to do something they don’t want to, what if you accept their preferences and let them choose instead?
Overall health: Finally, being older comes with more complicated health issues that you’ll want to keep an eye on. Things like the condition of their skin and firm, cracks forming in their paws, and checking their eyesight and hearing regularly to make sure they are overall healthy enough for the activities you are wanting to do with them.
The bucket list is ways to add to their quality of life and to share special moments together as they age. Let your pet guide you on what they can and cannot do!
Without further ado, here are engaging activities to try with your aging dog or cat!
1. A Pet Photography Session. A professional photo session is not only an enriching experience, it also will help you feel close to your pet once they pass on. I cherish certain photos of my past dogs that really show their personality and goofiness. Those moments bring me back to them and remind me of why I love them so much. Having pictures enlarged and framed to relive great memories is a fun way to style your home, and preserve them for years to come.
2. A Bougie Feast. A paw-licking feast is a great way to show your pet love. Gizelle, a bigger-than-life Mastiff, traveled to Maine to eat fresh lobster and donuts. Be sure to consider your dog’s health here and consult a medical professional before feeding anything new, but a special meal, especially photographed, can be a great memory-builder. Our dogs get a pig ear once a week as a special treat!
Just be sure - Check in with your vet if you’re in doubt!
3. Go for a Weekend at a Fancy Pet-Friendly Hotel or Airbnb. Enjoying a drink on the veranda or getting a human massage, and then giving your senior pet one—you two can spend a luxurious weekend sharing special moments. There’s a list of fantastic pet-friendly getaways here in Colorado Springs that you can find here.
4. Camp Out for A Cuddle Fest in The Living Room. Move a mattress downstairs or wherever is comfy for them and chill out. You could watch movies together, cuddle all day, or just put your ears against them and relax by listening to their purrs and breaths.
5. Go on a Picnic Date. It could be just the fam and your pet, or invite a few others to tag along. A picnic is relaxing. You don’t have to go far. Your backyard - or even your living room - might be the perfect spot. If you're in Colorado Springs like I am, there are some amazing outdoors locations that are perfect for a picnic!
6. Watch the Sunrise or Sunset Together. At the beach, from the countryside, or anywhere else with a clear view should work. I’ve spent time at the top of mountains watching the sunrise or sunset together with friends, pets, and family. It’s a great time to just be there, with each other.
7. Put a Camera on Your Pet’s Collar and See Life from Their POV. Cameras like GoPros can capture your pet’s world in a way you have never seen. If your pet tolerates it, put a camera on them and let them record their day-to-day life.
8. Life is Sweet. Dessert Makes It Sweeter. Have dessert together...just because. Try a pupsicle or catsicle, ice cream or other baked goodies. I love these cake recipes from The Dog Bakery!
9. Doggy or Kitty DNA Test. We all wonder where we came from. Finding out more about your pet’s breed(s) and possible relatives can help you complete your family tree! This can be a really cool experience and help you to connect with your pets on a deeper level!
10. Pawprints, Stepping Stones or Other Artwork. I have seen my cousin take her pet’s paw prints on family birthday cards, christmas cards, and in other crafts she makes as gifts. Check out my other blog Preserving Memories & Creating Memorials for Your Pet if you’re looking for more artsy ideas!
What else should be on the list? Let me know!