Birthday parties aren’t just for people. Pet parties are the next big thing. Get tips on throwing the perfect bash, pet-friendly games and pet party themes.
Elaborate decorations, giant cakes, overflowing presents and fun games. Celebrations aren’t just for kids anymore. Pets are enjoying their pawties too.
From simple in-home celebrations with their owners, to pre-planned elaborate pet parties with dozens of four-legged guests, some pet owners spare no expense when it comes to their fur babies.
Professional pet party planners say canine birthday parties are on the rise and the sky is the limit when it comes to the decor, food and games. To keep dogs and people entertained, pet party planners like Kristina Robertson, owner of highly rated Barkely Square Professional Pet Services in Alexandria, Va., recommend the following tips to plan the perfect pet party.
Find a pet party location
“If the party is at your home, you’ll need to make sure the yard or home is pet friendly and pet secure,” says Robertson, adding most of the 20 pet parties she’s planned were at the client’s home. She says it’s important to secure fences and doors, and to and make sure any valuables are put up in case the dogs get too excited.
Pickles the bulldog celebrates her first birthday.
Other companies, such as doggy day cares and boarding facilities, host parties in their facilities. Highly rated Canine Cabana in Riverview, Fla., hosts at least two to three birthday parties a month for clients. For $195, staff invite up to 15 dogs to celebrate a pet’s special day. Riverview, Fla., member Cathy Kimmel says it’s a price she was more than willing to pay for her dog, Abby-Renae. “I don’t have any human children, so having a birthday party for my ‘fur child’ was the closest thing I could do to honor her,” Kimmel says.
Canine Cabana decorated the entire facility for the event with streamers and balloons and brought in a dog-friendly cake and played games with the guests. Kimmel made goodie bags full of dog treats for the guests.
“Knowing my dog was treated like the princess she is was so special,” Kimmel says, adding that the other pet owners even brought gifts for Abby-Renae.
Decide on a pet party theme
Picking a dog party theme and having fun with it provides creative opportunities for pet parties.
Don’t forget doggie bags. You should have goody bags for both dog and human guests. (Photo courtesy of Lacey Rabalais Photography)
Robertson says there are plenty of ideas for themes on the Internet. Her most extravagant event cost around $3,000 and featured a pink leopard print party theme for a bulldog named Pickles.
She decorated tables in leopard prints with hot pink fur and served cake, cupcakes and treats with the same motif.
Because it occurred during the summer, Pickles’ party also featured a pink cool-down tent with misters for both the human and canine guests.
Pickles’ owner, Sarah Zuidema, admits to the extravagance, but says she loved every second of the dog party.
Zuidema ordered a custom leopard dress with a pink tutu for Pickles and made sure she dressed in the theme pattern as well. Her other dogs also matched perfectly.
Play pet friendly games
As with a kid’s party, entertainment is important. In the summer, many pet owners put plastic kiddie pools full of water in the lawn to keep the dogs cool. Robertson suggests filling a bucket with chicken-flavored hot dogs and let the pups bob for them. She also plays red rover, in which owners face their pets and call for them.
Don’t forget doggie bags
Pet parties provide the perfect opportunity to take the idea of “doggie bags” to the next level.
Pet bakeries can provide sweet treats for your pet party. (Photo courtesy of Lacey Rabalais Photography)
Fill the bags with dog-friendly treats, tennis balls, plush toys and bandanas to add to the fun.
For food, Canine Cabana uses a local dog bakery for their treats and cakes. Be sure to leave plenty of water around for the dogs and keep it fresh.
To capture the event, consider hiring a professional pet photographer, or someone with experience photographing pets. Robertson does this for most events.
“Make sure they’ve worked with animals before. It’s not the same as taking photos at a kid’s birthday party,” she says.
She recommends looking for someone with a portfolio that includes pet parties.
To prevent bad pet behavior, Robertson always advises clients to keep a professional dog trainer on site to ensure things run smoothly, and to look for signs of aggression.
Canine Cabana does a full assessment on their canine clients before holding a party to ensure all the animals are able to get along. If the pet is not pet friendly, they recommend holding a party with the pet’s family in a more intimate setting.
Angie’s ListLacey Nix spent her days as a former reporter for Angie’s List investigating crooked contractors and writing about bugs, wildlife and the funeral industry. Lacey is passionate about helping people avoid hiring shady companies and helping people make informed decisions in times of family crisis.
Lacey previously worked as a journalist for local newspapers, neighborhood magazines and an international adoption magazine. After graduating from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and psychology, she worked briefly as a corrections officer in a county jail, but felt the job left her creativity locked up.
In her free time, Lacey volunteers for adoption advocacy groups, watches wrestling with her two sons, tries to keep her teenage daughter interested in things other than boys and takes her dog Tink to the swim in the creek.