The author’s dog, Jasmyn, celebrates another birthday. Photo courtesy of Megan L. Fouch
The author’s dog, Jasmyn, celebrates another birthday. Photo courtesy of Megan L. Fouch
Birthdays are a great way to celebrate the joy of life. It is also a day where friends and family are able to recognize and honor the fact that you were blessed to turn one year older.

It should be no surprise that many pet owners throw birthday parties on their pets’ special day since many owners view their pets as family members. According to a national survey, 9 percent of dog owners throw their dogs birthday parties.

If you adopted your pet and do not know its exact birth date, do not fret. You can always use its adoption date as its special day of celebration.

If you wish to host a birthday party for your fuzzy friend, here are a few tips.

Theme

Think of a theme you want to have.

Is your pup the princess of the house? Purchase doggie-sized tiaras for the guests to wear. If your dog is a boy, think along the lines of a monster or “Paw-rate” (pirate) theme.

If you are throwing your cat a party, perhaps go for an ocean theme, with plenty of fish decorations.

With party themes, the sky is really the limit!

Guests

Consider who you would want on your guest list. Do you want to have a human-only party, where your friends and family lavish attention on the four-legged honoree? Or would you prefer to invite your dog’s or cat’s furry friends? If you choose the latter, invite a small number of other animals that your pet plays with on a regular basis or is used to, so you know everybody will have a great time.

If you happen to invite any animals that are new to your Woof or Meow’s circle, have them greet each other in neutral territory to give them a chance to get acquainted.

When it comes to invitations, you can be creative and make your own, or you can take advantage of the many electronic invitation websites out there.

Cake

When serving cake at your best bud’s party, factor in any allergies or dietary restrictions of your guests so that most every guest can savor the treat.

Also, choose dog- and cat-specific cakes, in which the ingredients are pet-friendly and will not cause gastro-intestinal distress with high caloric or sugar intake.

Remember that chocolate is not an option for dog birthday cakes, as chocolate is toxic for dogs. A substitute, if you are stuck on chocolate, is to use carob chips.

When I host parties for my dog, Jasmyn, I have a dog-only cake for her guests and cupcakes for the two-legged guests so everyone can enjoy. Check out The Pampered Puppy (www.pamperedpuppy.com/dog-food-treats.html) for drool-worthy cakes and treats. You may also scroll through Petcakes (www.petcakes.com) for tasty-looking cat truffles.

Note: If you choose to have lit candles while singing “Happy Birthday,” remember to blow them out before handing the cake over to your pet, as flames and fur don’t mix. 

Venue

For a dog party, the venue choices are unlimited. You can host the party at your home, a park, a dog park, the lake…the list goes on and on.

If you happen to host the party outside, remember to have fresh water on hand, leashes (if it is not an off-leash location) and plenty of poop bags.

There are also dog-friendly restaurants, such as The Dining Dog (www.diningdog.com) in Edmonds, Wash., which cater to canine companions and can host private parties, complete with birthday cakes and cupcakes for guests.

With all of the excitement, expect accidents to occur. Be sure to keep a first-aid kit on hand and cleaning supplies to take care of an “oops.”

If you are hosting a cat party, the venue choices are few, with your home being mostly the primary venue available, since a lot of cats are strictly indoor pets. 

Games

If you are thinking of having games other than Tag and Fetch, consider having a costume contest and award prizes to the pet that matches your party theme the best.

Maybe have a kiddie pool on hand if your dog’s birthday is in the middle of summer to help beat the heat.

If you have a talented artist friend, perhaps have pet/owner caricatures as a fun option for your invitees. 

Presents

Since most pets can be pretty spoiled by their parents all through that year (mine certainly is), decide if you really need or want your guests to bring presents for the pet of honor.

In my case, I usually request that a monetary donation or new toy is given to a local shelter or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (www.aspca.org), in lieu of bringing a gift. This way, a less-fortunate dog or cat has the opportunity to have its day brightened.

Some owners go a step beyond throwing a birthday party, even hosting Bark Mitzvahs and puppy or kitten showers.

If having a party for your canine or feline companion is a path you’d prefer not to venture down, don’t feel guilty. Just remembering your little darling with a treat or extra cuddle time on its birthday is just as acceptable and still shows it that you care.

MEGAN L. FOUCH is the office manager at the Madison Park Veterinary Hospital (www.madisonparkvet.com). To comment on this column, write to MPTimes@nwlink.com.