A little background for you before I get into the nitty gritty of dog birthday planning - let me introduce you to the birthday girl, Daisy:
In case it's not immediately apparent from the photo, Daisy is the best Labrador-mutt sidekick of all time. She hikes, fishes, naps and cuddles like a champ. For the past 11 years, Daisy has been an "only child", but life is about to change drastically for her as she's going to get a human sibling this fall. So, we (and I use the term "we" generously as my husband is more of an obliging enabler to my crazy dog-loving antics) figured, "what better reason to give her a big ole birthday bash before she relinquishes her only child status?" Meanwhile, I thought I'd share a few tips with you about what I've learned.
Now, on to the nitty gritty of dog birthday planning...
The key to throwing any successful party is to go big or go home. So, chances are Step 1 will be easy for you (you are, after all, the person reading an article titled "How to Throw an Epic Dog Birthday") it is simply to embrace your inner-crazy dog person. Will your friends think you're crazy for throwing a dog birthday party? Maybe. But, chances are they already know you are, and trust me, they're still going to come because let's be honest, who doesn't love free beer, snacks, and a reason to celebrate - especially a cute, fluffy reason?
Step 2: Choose a Location
You may love the idea of a bunch of dogs galloping around your house, or it might be your nightmare. If it's the latter, maybe look into hosting it at your local dog park, or there are even doggy day cares that will let you rent out their pools and host a doggy pool-party. We decided to go with the backyard party and to keep the chaos at home.
Step 3: Plan Your Activities
You are going to have a host of people and pets looking to be entertained. Lucky for you, just throw on some music and the people will probably be entertained, or at least preoccupied enough with their pets not to think about much else. We did set up a little makeshift station in the yard for folks who wanted to get a family portrait taken with their dogs which seemed to be a hit.
For the furry guests of honor, we held a little "doggy rave". I work for an awesome company called Nite Ize, who sponsored our activity for the night with a host of LED dog toys and lights for our guests. Each four-legged guest received a Nite Howl LED Necklace, a SpotLit Collar Light, a GlowStreak Ball, and a Flashflight Dog Discuit. So, once the sun set, we lit up the backyard, cranked the music, and let the dogs run wild with their new toys.
Step 4: Invitations & Guests
I like to use PaperlessPost for online invitations, they have a lot of cute easy-to-design options but there are tons of other user-friendly email invite sites out there as well.
Step 5: Food & Drinks
Let there be cake! You can find dog bakeries everywhere that make great birthday cakes specifically for dogs. If you happen to be in the Boulder, CO area, our favorite is P.C.'s Pantry which makes these apparently delicious "Barkday Cakes" and we found out their most popular selling flavor is liver - yum.
On the "people food" front, we made it easy on ourselves going with pizza, beer, and cupcakes. One thing I recommend doing before planning your menu though, is to check out the ASPCA's website, they have a helpful list of foods that can be toxic or harmful to pets that you’ll want to avoid. (Ok disclaimer - so beer is on their list, but just make sure your guests are responsible and not giving beer/alcohol to dogs - hopefully this shouldn't be a tough request).
Step 6: Puppy-proofing & Decorating
If you're having the party at home, be sure to do some puppy proofing. A roving hoard of dogs can get into all sorts of trouble. Check the fence for anywhere little dogs might escape and block off areas like stairways and carpet to keep all your fuzzy friends in an easy-to-spot area. It's also a good idea to set up a little "time out" area for dogs that might be getting a little over-excited or worn out during the party.
Step 7: Party Time - Sit back and let the chaos begin!