For dedicated pet parents, a dog's gotcha day is a special occasion that must be celebrated much like any family member. We're blessed with just a limited amount of time with our faithful sidekicks - why not make it an all-out party to commemorate another year together?
If you're in the celebratory mood, you're not alone. In fact, 3 in 4 dog owners admit to celebrating their dog's birthday or gotcha day annually. If you are throwing a birthday party for your pup but don't know where to start, this article is for you.
1. Serve up something special
Many dog owners are enthusiastic about the idea of giving their pets a birthday cake. However, some cake ingredients might be unhealthy for your pup. That's why a pet-friendly version is the way to go.
Before you dive into baking, take a look at what human foods should absolutely be off-limits to pets.
Once you have those committed to memory, give some crowd-pleasing, dog-friendly cake pops a try!
Nowadays, you can also find specialty stores that sell pet-friendly cakes and other treats that use natural ingredients. We love the gourmet doggy cakes from William Sonoma as well as the dog-friendly ice cream from Puppy Scoops!
2. Entertainment your guests
Plan a few entertaining activities or icebreakers to liven up your gotcha party. If your dogs are all willing, you could coordinate a dog fashion show by having your guests dress their pets up in their very best birthday fits. Fun games and icebreakers are also great.
If you need ideas for fun brain games for your doggy guests, Figo's got a whole list here.
3. Go wild with pet-themed decor
If you have time to decorate your home for the birthday party, consider putting up some chic pet-themed decorations. This decor does not have to be expensive and can be DIYed. Etsy is also a great resource for trendy gotcha day banners and accessories.
4. Go for a swim
Dogs appreciate the simple things in life - it's one of their greatest strengths. To be honest, if you asked your pet what they want most for their gotcha day, most would likely say they just want to be by your side or go on an adventure together.
If the weather is nice, consider filling up an inflatable pool and letting your dog swim to their heart's content. You can also dip in the water and play with your dog to make their birthday more enjoyable. This idea is especially great if you have a reactive or introverted pup.
5. Combine with game day
We sometimes don't spend enough time with our dogs because of our busy schedules. So why not combine a few activities together to ensure your pet gets the loving they deserve on their special day?
Already having friends over for a big game? Consider making the party pet-friendly and asking them to dress their pet in their favorite team's colors.
Head outside after screen time is over and practice plays with your dogs - grab a soft football and let them be the receiver while you play the quarterback. When they get tired, feed them some extra nutritious treats and plenty of water so they can replenish their lost energy.
6. Plan the perfect gift
What do you get for the dog who has everything? Since they can't express what they want, you'll need to put your thinking cap on and deduce what gift they'd appreciate the most. Here are a few creative gift ideas for your dogs:
This trendy calming dog bed from Amazon
A bag of their favorite treats
7. Design a photo-op
Who doesn't love to take photos during parties? Setting up a photo backdrop where human guests and their pets can take pictures is an excellent addition to the party. Furthermore, everyone can take home something that will make them remember how great their dog's birthday was.
If you don't want to hire a professional photographer, you can do it yourself using your phone, a printer, or a disposable camera. To make photos extra customizable, prepare a few accessories they can wear during the photo sessions.
8. Don't forget your human guests
A birthday party isn't the same if you don't have guests to share all the fun with. Invite your relatives, friends, or neighbors to the party so the day will be more lively. If your dog is part of a pet care center, you can invite the dogs to their class and their respective owners.
You'll want to prepare some snacks for people and pets alike - and even some pet-themed cocktails! If you don't have time to cook, you can go for a prepared meal delivery service in your area or order delivery instead.
Remember - a big puppy party will work best if you have a naturally social pup. Please don't stress your pet in order to make your own day more exciting. When in doubt, less is more!
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.