The Journal Gazette
Sunday, February 21, 2016 10:03 pm

A party that's gone to the dogs

Keiara Carr | The Journal Gazette

Pet birthdays are mostly a dog-lover thing, Kellie Adkins, marketing director for Pampered Pets Bed & Biscuit, explains. 

"Cats would all just hide in the corner and hiss at each other," she says, laughing.

Dogs may not be aware of why they are getting special attention, but as a more social species, they certainly can appreciate cake and play dates.

Adkins says that Pampered Pets, on Cook Road, hosts several pet birthdays a month.

"I think a lot of times, with our clientele, we have older, established clientele whose kids are out of the house, or it’s people who don’t have kids yet. So, we see two different ends of the spectrum, and it’s just like having a kid," she says.

"They want the dog to have a good time."

If you’re the parent of a pet, here’s a few tips to get the party started.

Getting out of the doghouse

If you’re not sure how your dog will react to other dogs, don’t hop into a birthday party just yet. Start small with play dates, says Adrianna Hemsley, owner of the Pink Poodle Pet Spa and Boutique on Jefferson Boulevard.

The Pink Poodle hosts "Yappy Hour Parties" from spring to fall for pet owners and their pets.

"In a party situation, you have food and treats, and that’s something that dogs can become jealous over," Hemsley says. "Sometimes (dogs) can be food-aggressive or toy-aggressive, so having friends over and having that kind of socialization can help determine whether your dog needs additional training in those areas."

If this will be your dog’s first party, Adkins says to consider a guest list of five or fewer dogs. Check in with each owner before the party to make sure their pets are caught up on vaccinations and learn more about the dog’s body language.

"It’s not only good for a situation like a birthday party, but if you’re out walking your dog and you see another dog, you can kind of predict what’s going to happen," she says.

Bark-day treats

What’s a birthday without a cake? Adkins says dog-friendly recipes can be found online. However, if you’re not completely sure, leave it to the professionals.

Owners can order personalized "pup cakes" of various sizes at Dawg-E-Bag Barkery and Grooming on North Clinton Street.

"They are specifically made just for dogs," owner Tracy Degitz says. "I bake them with fresh and natural human-grade ingredients minus all of the stuff they don’t need or is not good for them. So there’s no added butter, sugar, salt; there’s no dyes, no chemicals, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors and even the frosting is sugar-free."

If you’re OK with your dog receiving treats or toys for his birthday, make sure guests are aware of any allergies or any preferences you have for your dog.

Bottles of doggy beer or wine, which are really chicken or beef broth-based beverages, can be a fun novelty thank-you gift for guests.

"They are kind of designed to either be poured over food, like a food additive," Hemsley says. "So for people who use dry dog food, it just kind of enhances the flavor."

Dawg-E-Bag does have doggy beer for sale.

Four-legged fun

Make sure your parties include games that keep both the dogs and their owners active. Degitz says it can be something as simple as a game of fetch or Frisbee.

At Pampered Pets, Adkins says the dogs really love latex balloons.

"But make sure to take the balloon away immediately if they pop it so that no one is eating it," Adkins says. "We also do things with pools and bubbles. They really enjoy that."

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