The Ultimate Guide to Throwing a Dog Birthday Party

The Ultimate Guide to Throwing a Dog Birthday Party

Thinking about throwing a dog birthday party and looking for party ideas? We’re covering everything you need to know to throw a dog birthday party.

Don’t know your pups birthday? No problem— you can celebrate their adoption date (sometimes called a “gotcha day”) or any special date in your relationship. 

When putting together a dog birthday, you need to consider the guest list, location, theme, and food. Our guide breaks down how to choose the right mix of party details to ensure your two-legged and four-legged guests have a doggone good time!

In addition to breaking down how to choose the right guest list, location, and theme for your party, we created three different downloadable dog birthday invitations for you to use.

Consider yourself a visual learner? Then check out our Throw Your Dog a Birthday Party Pinterest board for tips and tricks to make your pup party go smoothly.

Guest List

While there are a lot of decision to make when planning a party (especially for a pooch!), one of the most important things to decide is the guest list.

When you determine who to invite to your pet’s party, it will be easier to decide on things like the location and theme.

Pro Party Tip: If you are including kids in the party, consider their ages and different levels of experience with animals. You’ll want to balance the amount of supervision and attention needed by children and canines at the party.

Bring Your Pooch Parties

If your dog likes to play with other dogs, a birthday party is a great occasion to have a doggy play date. But one important thing to remember is that you want all the dogs present to have already been introduced.

A birthday party can be a stressful time for dogs that aren’t acquainted, so it’s best to get to know the new beagle down the street in another setting.

But if your dog already has a group of dog friends, like an obedience class, dog park regulars, or littermates, a birthday party is a very good time to get together.

If you find yourself doing any dog introductions aim to do them in front of the house rather than inside. This can help avoid any initial territorial tendencies.

Pro Party Tip: Be sure owners know they should stick around for the party, rather than just dropping their dogs off for a few hours. You may want to have a few pooch-less friends or family at the party to help with supervision.

Pup in the Spotlight

Will your dog be the only pup at their party? If you want to make your dog the center of the attention, invite your dog loving friends and family over and dote on your one and only.

This is a great option if your dog is just too popular to get all their doggy BFFs in the same room, or if your pup prefers the company of humans.

If you’re a multi-dog household, then you can have the best of both worlds by giving the birthday dog some special attention while still having your other dogs enjoy the party.

Location

Once you’ve decided on the humans and dogs you’d like to attend, you can choose the perfect location. If there are multiple dogs at the party, you will likely want to have the party outside— especially for large dogs.

A group of smaller dogs might be okay with spending a few hours indoors (with ample bathroom breaks), but you probably don’t want to have half a dozen Great Danes over for an indoor-only party.

Your home can be a great location for the party, but there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

What to Consider Before Hosting a Dog Birthday at Your House

  • Do you have enough yard space?
  • Will it be an indoor and outdoor party?
  • How will the weather be?
  • Do you have enough shade? If not, are you willing to buy or rent a shade structure?

Other Locations to Host a Dog Birthday Party

  • Local Park
  • Dog Beach
  • A Dog Loving Friend or Family Member’s House
  • Doggy Daycare

Parks will sometimes require you book space through the Department of Parks and Recreation, especially if you plan to use provided picnic tables, so check the regulations for your area.

If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast and want to host a beach party, be sure that the beach of your choice allows dogs (and be prepared to plan your party around the fact that other dogs will be out and about).

ThemeBrit + Co Milkbone Pup Quiz Flowchart

Choosing a theme might be the best part of party planning. If you check out our dog birthday pinboard, you’ll notice that people use all kinds of themes— from birthday princess and leopard print to dog yoga and backyard barbecues.

Whether you throw your dog a birthday every year or this is your first time and you’re worried it’s cheesy, go with the theme that seems like the most fun to you and that most fits with your dog’s personality.

Essentially anything that can be a theme for a human birthday party could be a theme for a dog party. (If you throw your dog a cat themed party, please send us photos).

Want help with a theme? Brit + Co partnered with The Noseprint to create some great dog birthday DIYs and put together a dog personality quiz to decide what kind of party is right for your dog.

Decorations

The most important thing about decorations is doing what is fun and manageable for you. If you love decorating for parties, don’t let your dog’s birthday be any different— go all out!

Although if you’re not one for decorations, it’s okay to skip them entirely or just go for some dog themed plates from your local party store.

We’ve already mentioned how great Pinterest is, but don’t forget Instagram if you’re looking for inspiration. We recommend the #dogbirthday tag.

Invites

In the age of Facebook, it is easy to forget about invitations, but party invitations are a great touch!

To make your party planning easier, we created three different downloadable birthday party invites! Sign-up below to get them.

Redbarn's Downloadable Dog Birthday Invitations

If you want tangible invitations that are perfectly tied to your theme or feature a photo of your dog, we recommend visiting your local stationery store or checking out Etsy.

E-vites are another popular option, and you may even be able to find a cute animal card or upload a photo of your dog.

If you’re hosting a dog birthday where your pup will be the only canine in attendance be sure that your invitees know, so there aren’t any mix-ups about who is on the guest list.

Food

For Dogs

While it’s a little more work than a human party, planning dog-friendly food for a dog birthday party is easier than you might think. One must have is cake dogs can eat. When it comes to cake for dogs, you have plenty of options!

DIY Dog Birthday Cake

If baking from scratch is your thing, there are lots of easy dog cake recipes out there (you can find many on our previously mentioned birthday pin board).  Many cake recipes for dogs use ingredients you probably already have in the house or can easily get, and are edible for humans too! If you and your dog plan to eat the same cake, be prepared for the fact that cakes for dogs will be less sweet than the cake you’re used to.

If humans won’t be eating your dog’s birthday cake, then feel free to top it or fill it with biscuits, kibble, or bully sticks! We suggest making a pinata cake and filling it with your dog’s favorite treats!

Dog Cake Mix

Buying a dog birthday cake mix gives you the sense of accomplishment and low cost of a DIY cake but with a well-tested formula. There are many different options available online, so you can probably find one that works for you even if your dog has special dietary needs.

Specialty Bakery

Some bakeries offer canine friendly options, or there may even be a dog-centric bakery in your area. This will require some research, and will probably be easier to find canine bakeries in larger cities. There are also companies that ship dog baked goods nationally. These delivery options are often cookies and “pup cakes” rather than birthday cakes, but can still be an excellent choice.

Treats and Chews

If you’ll be sharing dog treats at the party, look for smaller options (like NatuRollies or Filled Biscuits). These quick to eat treats are perfect for keeping pups happy and rewarding them for good party behavior. Save more intensive chews (like bully sticks and bones) for the goodie bags. You want to avoid creating situations where dogs are likely to get territorial or aggressive. Even the most well-trained or docile dog can get cranky if they feel there are too many other pups that might snatch their chew.

Doggy Snacks

Dog-friendly human foods are a great snack for dogs. Always double check that the food is safe for dogs before putting it out on a party platter. We suggest carrots and apples, which are easy, widely available and typically inexpensive.

Pupsicles

Dog popsicles, or pupsicles/pawpsicles, are a great option for a dog birthday party, especially during the summer time. These are both an engaging activity and will help keep dogs cool. Pupsicles range from water-based to broth or another liquid (like coconut milk). You can use an ice cube tray, a popsicle form, or a silicone mold to make your pupsicles.

Here are some recipes to try:

If none of these recipes appeal to you, Kol’s Notes also has a great mix and match infographic on how to create your own pupsicle recipes.

For Humans

When it comes to human food, typical party food still applies (everyone loves a good veggie platter and some chips), but there are also a lot of opportunities for cute puns and play on words.

Our favorite dog party appropriate foods are:

You may also want to have fruits and vegetables that are good for both people and dogs. We’ve already mentioned carrots and apples, but you can also consider blueberries, roasted sweet potato slices, and cucumbers.

While cold cuts are a great option for humans, but best not to share with pups— the high sodium in cold cuts and processed meats is not good for dogs.  

Activities

Backyard Water Park

Waterslide anyone? Barkpost created an excellent guide to making a backyard water park for your dog. The tutorial is pretty simple, and water-loving dogs will go crazy for it!

Ultimate Fetch

Fetch is so ubiquitous when it comes to dogs, it might not seem like much of a party activity. But if you’ve seen this video of five dogs playing fetch you know that a group of dogs can go crazy for a good game of fetch. It’s a good idea to have multiple balls or frisbees on hand and don’t bring out your dog’s favorite toys because they could get destroyed or absconded with.

Photobooth

If you have space in your house or yard, set up a photo booth for people and their dogs. All you need is a simple backdrop (which could be a white sheet or cute fabric) in an area that is well lit. If you’re willing to spend some money you can hire a photographer, but many people will be happy to take selfies or ask someone at the party to take their photo. For cute props, you can go the DIY route or visit a party store and find funky glasses, hats, and more.

Relaxation Area

In addition to games and activities, you should also provide an area for pups to relax and get away from the action. Be sure this area is shaded. It is also a nice touch to pick up some pillows and blankets from a secondhand store and put them out for dogs that need a break.

Redbarn's Downloadable Dog Birthday Invitations

There are 245 comments

  1. mitzi frank

    I have never gad a dog birthday party with other people and dogs….we just do our little celebrations privately. I can’t imagine anything you have forgotten in the list. Sounds pretty good to me!

  2. Eva Daniell

    I have always had shelter dogs and did not know when they were born. We just got a puppy and know when her birthday is so I am looking forward to throwing her a birthday party next year when she turns 1

  3. Angie L Shackelford

    Today my baby boy Radar turned 9 years old and he said to wish you a very happy birthday as well and would love to win since Momma and Daddy both haven’t been feeling to good so we didn’t get to shop for him

  4. Linda Szymoniak

    I have thrown my dogs birthday parties, but since they typically get spoiled every day of the year, birthdays aren’t that much different for them. It doesn’t help that after I did a big party for my Misty – I adopted her right after I got married in 1981 and it was her 16th birthday – she passed just 9 days later. I guess it makes me a little leery about doing a big party. You do have some great ideas, though, so I’ll have to do parties for the pack from now on. We have three Treeing Walker Coonhounds and three cats (all rescues, and the newest addition is our kitten, Kokoha, who was just two weeks old when I found her and had to be bottle fed).

  5. Timothy Thompson

    There are many dog bakeries near me, but are way to expensive for a good size dog party. The DIY dog cake is a great idea that I think I will do!

  6. Sandy Weinstein

    great ideas but i have never thrown a bday party for my 3 gals. i have given a party for the 3 gals at my house but never invited guests.

  7. Vickie L Kulp

    I’ve never had a dog birthday party but I have an idea of something to do. Most likely all pet owners have taken photos of their pet(s) so why not put them on DVD and show them some kind of way on a screen? Or make a scrapbook of your pet and show to party goers.

  8. BethP

    We did have a party for our 2 dogs when they were turning 1! Invited the neighbor dogs…was a blast. Games, treats, toys…. You guys covered it all plus some-great article!

  9. Tammy Horn

    I have thrown a dog birthday party and had it at our agility class with all of our dog friends and classmates. Lots of home made treats, and goody bags handed out. Great article.

  10. Denise Shepherd

    We throw a birthday party for our beloved 14 yr old chihuahua, every year! This year Hunter turns 15, on Halloween!!! Love the blog, very useful material and interesting!

  11. Aria H.

    Fun! I have never thrown my dogs a party. They were born on December 25, so they get lots of goodies in their stocking. It would be too cold to do anything outside, though.

  12. Katie

    We have four dogs. Whenever their birthdays come up I always throw them birthday parties. I either make a cake, cupcakes or both. They have either names on the cakes. We get tons of pictures and videos.

  13. rebeccabasset

    I love all of the Ideas! I especially like the Water Park and the Doggy Incredibubbles, I will definitely order some of these, they will also make a great Doggy Gift Bag to give the Guests after the Party. Thanks for the Post, the Idea’s and the Giveaway!

  14. debra dubois

    Yes we adopted our two girls they are amazing we had a shower and we have a birthday party every year they are now three and we just adore them.

  15. Daniel Scott

    We have a BBQ with the dogs of our rescue group and their owners. This party celebrates the Gotcha Days of our rescues and their furever homes.
    Make sure that if you serve food or treats to the dogs that there are no dogs that are food aggressive.

    1. Chelsee Bergen

      Daniel, we love that you have a BBQ with rescue dogs- such a sweet idea. Excellent point about food aggression- safety is a paramount and nothing ruins a party faster (for dogs or otherwise) than a fight.

  16. Anita Adkison

    I always make my dogs a peanut butter carrot cake for birthdays. Parties just aren’t going to happen, though. lol. These are great tips for someone who wants to throw a party.

  17. Laurie Arnheim

    Yes, we’ve had birthday parties for both of our babies! We have a neighbor who also has little dogs, and the three of them come down to our house & we party! Doggie cake, and treat bags, gifts, the whole nine yards!

  18. Jewell Potter

    I have four dachshunds who are little terrors in the home. When I shop Red Barn, they have such unique things at higher quality than you find in stores. Thank you.

  19. CarolynH

    I’ve just learned so many new ideas on a pet birthday party. I’m sure to get even more detailed ideas on Pinterest and Instagram. Thanks for these suggestions.

  20. Jan D

    My dog is very social – he loves all types of animal “friends” and he never met a person he doesn’t like. A birthday party would surely be a hit.

  21. Monica Stewart

    I’ve never thrown a birthday party for my dog but after reading this I am going to give it a try for his next birthday! These are all great ideas! I love the photo booth and the treats for the people as well as the dogs!

  22. linda h

    We don’t do birthdays, we celebrate the day we brought our dogs home from the animal rescue and instead of gifts for our dog, we contribute $$ and whatever is on the needs list of the rescue we got her from.

  23. Betsy Pauzauskie

    We’ve had birthday parties for Bastian, serving McDonald Cheeseburgers to the humans AND four-legged furbabies! The tradition began with my father getting Bastian a McDonald Burger when he was little; and it grew each year!

  24. Irene Lirette

    My dog just turned 2 on the 1st of this month…I didn’t have anything to bake a doggie cake or treats so I took a strawberry pop tart (he loves them!) and decorated it! lol He LOVED it!

  25. Margaret Primos

    Great party ideas! I do love a party and so do my pets. I’ll be kicking it up a notch for my next dogs birthday. Thanks for the info.

  26. Joan Norkus

    I have not had a party, but I always took my dog to the store to pick out a special toy or treat. My last dog is sadly gone, I do have a new pup now that will be turning 1 in December. I may need to think about a party!

  27. Mary Newland

    I have never thrown a party for my dog . We always just adopt rescues so we never know the birth date but we usually celebrate doggy birthdays on June 1. I usually give them special treats and maybe a new toy

  28. Joanne willey

    I got some great party ideas from your site, thank you. I love having a Birthday Party for each of my pets each year. Brady 2, Boston Terrier. Polo 3 Cat. Its fun for the pets and more so for the adults! I love celebrating that they are in our lives.

  29. Cathy Thompson

    Awesome ideas, thanks for sharing! We will definitely be entertaining a doggie birthday party as our puppy is almost 1 year old!

  30. Joy

    Love all the ideas!! Yes, I just threw my 17 year old spaniel mix a big birthday pawty. It was nice to see how much fun she had. Didn’t do the cute invites though but she had lots of people around that love her 🙂

  31. Shawna

    I Love these ideas! We’ve never thrown a large Birthday party for our dog, but we do have a small, family only party for our dog with special treats!

  32. Leslie Merritt

    I used to have parties for my dog Asia Lynne,RIP. She loved it. She would sit there with a party hat on at The table and eat her doggy cake I made her,lol.

  33. Russell Moore

    We’ve never thrown a party, but the local dogs congregate at our house most days, so I guess you can say the party never ends.

  34. M Thon

    We usually just have a special treat for our rescue Max. I know he would love a dog party. He is fun,exciting,smart and friendly. He has lots of friends in his neighborhood and I am sure they would all enjoy a good dog party. Love all your ideas!

  35. DAVID KROMER

    I have never thrown a Dog Birthday party. I will be doing that on my next birthday foe my dog. I can hardly wait, it look like so much fun.

  36. Marci Palumbo

    Our dog Lucy is a pittie from the Humane Society. I don’t know her birthday but if we did a party, I would just ask folks to donate to one of the small charities I love <3

  37. Tiffany's Diamond Dogs

    These are some fabulous ideas! Definitely pinned and saved this post. We haven’t thrown any official doggie parties yet, but we have been celebrating the canine birthday parties for the past four years. Each pup gets a cake, a present, some goodies, we donate to a non-profit organization, and we do something fun like go for a day hike.

  38. Vikki

    Jackson has a cake for his “mom & me” party every year. We buy birthday themed plates and pack up cake for the other dogs in the family. Of course we don’t tell them he licked the whole cake first!

  39. Jayedee Dewitt

    I love this blog post! We have one big party every year to celebrate our rescues and bring awareness….I’ve gleaned some great ideas from you!

  40. Jennifer Goodrich

    Our furry children LOVE Red Barn Peanut Butter Bully Strips! Great products and awesome that they are all natural! Our dogs are Roxie (9), Riley (3) and Duffy (3). They are a rambunctious sort and love going to the Bark Park and on walks to sniff new areas. Would absolutely love to celebrate their birth days!

  41. Ann Dupuis

    We don’t tend to be party animals, so our “birthday party” for our dog tends to be an extra-long walk, playing in the snow (February “gotcha day” since we don’t know his actual birthday), clicker training for fun, and lots of yummy treats.

  42. Sandy Klocinski

    I have never thrown a birthday party for a dog. I currently have a foster dog…he is only little (a chihuahua) but he has a big attitude. I don’t think I’ll be inviting any dogs over until he learns to “play better with others”

  43. shannon fowler

    we haven’t but we have been to other dogs’ parties. i don’t see my fiancé doing it for his dog, but i definitely would for mine. this will be the first year he is with me on his birthday since we rescued him right after his birthday last year.

  44. Jack Riddle

    We have always had rescue dogs, so don’t know birthdays. We could have a party for the four we have now and celebrate all of them!

  45. Andrea Rodriquez

    My Doberman puppy just turned 6 months so we have another 6 to start her ultimate birthday bash! Thanks for making it so much easier and covering all the bases with this guide! It’s going to be a huge help.

  46. Alysha Mcdougle

    My pug baby will be 1 year old in December, never thrown a party for a dog before but would love to do some of these ideas for her big day!

  47. Christy Peeples DuBois

    I have never given a birthday party for any of my pets but I do have a cousin that has a birthday party for their puppy every year. She goes all out. I know there are many people that haven’t had as nice of party’s as her puppy.

  48. Melissa D

    Wow, all these amazing ideas make me feel guilty about the simple parties I’ve thrown my dogs (like a balloon and a bone!). Next birthday, I’ll do better 🙂

  49. Linda Davidson

    I threw one of my dogs a birthday party a long time ago. We had a cake with candles and even guest. My neighbor said, Now I’ve seen everything!

  50. Danielle murgia

    I Have not thrown a doggie party because we really don’t get along with the puppies in the neighborhood. They tend to be off leash and aggressive. This is a cute idea though. We usually celebrate with homemade treats and homemade doggie ice cream!

  51. Danlau6711

    Yes I used to make the cake and we would sing. Now since we have 2 of our 4 dogs birthdays right around Halloween we buy them a pumpkin cake decorated like a pumpkin then some treats with skulls and bones and ghosts! I think we love it just as much as them!!!

  52. Jessica S

    Love the ideas! Killers birthday is in October and we now live in a place where a puppy party would work, I’m sure he’s looking forward to it 🙂

  53. Tiffany Madron

    This is so much fun. I love it! Our Arlo is our only “child” so far and we totally spoil him! His first birthday was with him and his three “puppy buddies” and I did make him his own birthday cake and he had ice cream! I will have to remember these ideas for his next party! 🙂

  54. Barbara Mayes

    I haven’t ever thrown my dogs a birthday party, but would love to start with my senior dog’s birthday on Halloween. She will be 12 years old! That would be so much fun to throw them all a party. I sent for the invitations, and am bookmarking this page so I will have it for her birthday. I would love to win!

  55. Angela Cash

    My dogs are rescues and foster “fails.” Since we don’t know their actual birthdates, we have GotchaDay parties for them. They get new toys & treats and I always bake pupcakes for them.

  56. ellen beck

    Odin is 14 now, he is a crabby old soul although a good boy still being loving with us, and to his ‘favorite’ cat. I threw a party for him when we adopted him over 10 years ago. I picked him because he had the least chance of being adopted. It was puppy season, he was 4, and to top it off a black dog. But he has been the very best boy, he is my constant companion.

  57. Kimberly Flickinger

    Yes I have thrown birthday parties for my doxies. I have even included my doxies in my birthday party celebrations. However, I have forgotten birthday invitations. These are great ideas!

  58. Howard

    Gosh .. have never thought about this! But, now that I know, will consider. Hmmm, since our dog was a shelter dog, will have to pick a month to celebrate

  59. Trisha McKee

    I have never thrown my dogs a birthday party but we do take the puppy out and get him a dinner burger. We have three bulldogs and they are due for a party!

  60. Sonya Allstun

    We did have a party for our 2 dogs when they were turning 1! Invited the neighbor dogs…was a blast. Games, treats, toys…. You guys covered it all plus some-great article!

  61. Ashley Holguin

    Love these ideas! We do an early birthday for my pups. They go to the Dogtober Fest/Pet Expo and play games, get free treats, and new shampoos/collars/etc and prizes then we go home and do gift and a special birthday cookie!

  62. Janet m

    We never had big parties for our dogs but if we knew their birthdate they got special treats and lots of extra attention for the day:) What would we do without our our furbabies ?

  63. Samantha H

    I really wanted to throw a party for the first birthday of our Bernese Mountain Dog. I found a brewery which sells “Backseat Berner” IPA, and found 2 different companies selling wine and champagne with Bernese dogs on the bottle. I was so sad to hear they didn’t ship to my state though! If I figure out a way by the next birthday… I’ll make it happen!

  64. Jaymie S

    I think that your ideas are very original and smart and I love the invitations they’re very cute. I would want to have a birthday party at a dog beach and I also love that you have recipes for dogs because we love to make things for our baby Cally. Her first birthday is in 6months

  65. Tiffany Lawrence

    Awesome ideas! I think you all got it covered! Great article and the kids will love spoiling Chase even more than he already is with many of these ideas! His birthday is in May, but that won’t stop them from having a doggy-party for him!

  66. Teresa Reaves

    Well we went to the store and got so many treats and a couple of toys but I don’t really think you could say it was a party, well Padma’ probably thought it was a party but she is always spoiled and her bubbies Aka Sunny they get what they want lol

  67. Fiona S.

    Such generous and amazing prizes! My puppy turns 1 this Feb. and it would be awesome to have all the essentials to throw the best party for him. Thank you so much for the chance!

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