Pet Birthday Party Ideas

Invitations

Decorations

If the festivities are for Fido or Fluffy, draw paw prints leading to your door with sidewalk chalk. Then cut pet-appropriate shapes out of poster board (bones or fire hydrants for dogs, fish or mouse shapes for cats, etc.) and hang them from the ceiling or from trees if you're having the party outside.

And don't forget to decorate the pets themselves. If your pup digs dress-up, go ahead and put on the dog with a party hat or even a tuxedo shirt or tutu. If not, give man's best friend girl's best friend, courtesy of a collar studded with diamonds (okay, rhinestones). If you're celebrating a feline, stick to the fancy collars (leopard print, perhaps?), since most kitties don't care for fashion shows.

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Tips

If you're throwing a pooch party, by all means, invite your pet's canine pals as well as their owners. Just keep the guest list small and the party time to two hours so the dogs don't get too stressed with too many animals around for too long. Plus, you need to know that all the guests play well with your pet as well as other dogs, so save introducing your Rex to your new buddy's Spot for another outing. Should you invite compadres without canines? Only if they're rabid dog lovers who absolutely adore your pet.

Hold the party in your fenced-in backyard or at a nearby dog park for less muss, less fuss, but be sure to indicate an alternate date or location in case of bad weather. And keep lots of pooch poop bags on hand for any presents your pals' pets may leave behind.

If you're celebrating your kitty, limit the guests to just your family — cats prefer to keep to their own turf. Likewise if the party's for your iguana, hamster, cockatoo, clownfish or tree frog. While you and your immediate relatives are no doubt devoted to your animal pal, your human pals won't likely be as psyched about partying with your pet.

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Activities

No matter what kind of pet you have, build in time for playtime. Get dogs' tails wagging with fetch or tug-of-war. If your party's in the dog days of summer, fill a kiddie pool with water and let the canine guests go for a dip. Let Kitty chase a piece of yarn or a flashlight beam in a dark room for feline fun (just expect a catnap for both of you afterward).

For a dog party, have a pet parade, particularly if the canine guests came in costume. You might also hold a talent show where old dogs show off their new tricks. If there will be kids at your dog's party, paint their faces to look like a puppy's.

If kids are attending, have them woof, meow or otherwise "sing" "Happy Birthday" to your pet in his or her own language. At parties just for your pet and your family, take time to present your pet's presents and play with them with him or her.

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Food

Keep your top dog (or cat) top of mind when planning your menu. For a pooch party, make puppy chow (or, as Chex calls them, Muddy Buddies), the snack food that looks like Purina but tastes a lot better, and serve it in small dog bowls personalized with each pup's name in paint pen so their owners can take them home later. Add hot dogs with all the fixings and a bone-shaped birthday cake and you're set for human food.

For your canine guests, offer dog biscuits and other treats from the pet store or a pet bakery. Just make sure to keep the pooch food on a separate table from the people food, since some doggie delicacies can be easily confused with human ones.

Kitty parties call for fish — fish flakes for the guest of honor and filets for the humans. You might also set out bowls of Swedish fish and Kit Kats for your people and catnip for your pet. For a purrfect kitty birthday "cake," give your cat a can-shaped helping of Fancy Feast with optional mayonnaise frosting.

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Drinks

For a pup party, offer people water, a Salty Dog or a Red Dog or Southpaw Light brew, making sure to stick a bottle in a doggy bag for a little hair of the dog the next day. Give the Rovers Bowser Beer, a nonalcoholic, noncarbonated beer for dogs made with malt barley and beef broth (no, we're not kidding).

For a cat party, whip up a punch bowl of Tom and Jerry, and serve water or milk flavored with chocolate malt powder or vanilla syrup. Just save the milk for the humans, not your feline, since many adult kitties are actually lactose intolerant.

As a final flourish to truly pamper your dog or cat — it is their birthday, after all — pour a Bark Vineyards' varietal (a nonalcoholic "fine wine for the canine and feline" made with meat juices) over their food. Cheers!

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