Birthday Gifts for Dogs

by Em Connell McCarty
    Gypsy's fifth birthday.

    Gypsy's fifth birthday.

    You may feel, like many do, that your dog is your baby, and want to celebrate him in any way you can. You are not alone. American Pet Products reports that 54 percent of American households purchase holiday gifts for their dogs. Accordingly, there is a seemingly endless supply of gift ideas, and businesses ready to help you. From the dog who would be happy with an old stick to chase to the cultured dog who is difficult to impress, there are a lot of options out there for birthday gifts for dogs.

    For an overwhelming number of dog gift ideas, go to any pet supply store. There you can find tug toys, fetch toys, squeaky toys, stuffed toys, rubber toys, chew toys and even puzzle toys for your dog. Other items to consider at the pet supply store are treats. You can buy packaged treats or bulk treats at most pet supply stores. Bulk treats give you the option to make a variety bag of treats for your dog. You can also find edible chew toys in the form of rawhides, pig's ears, cow hooves and bones. Most bones found at a pet supply store are going to be chosen and prepared in a manner to prevent any splintering; therefore, they will be safe for your dog (you should never leave your dog unattended with any chew toy in case of choking). If your dog is bored with her outfit, you can also find new collars, leashes and even dog clothes for winter or for around town at a pet supply store. For the dog who prefers no-nonsense gifts, you could choose a nice set of dog dishes.
    If your dog is of a more highbrow type, skip the super pet supply store and go to a pet boutique. Pet boutiques will have less quantity in favor of quality. The prices may be a little higher, but the gifts will be more refined. You can find dog perfumes, dog charms and necklaces, dog swimsuits and a variety of other pampered gifts at your neighborhood or online pet boutique. You may also have the option of personalizing the gifts you buy for your dog at a pet boutique by having them custom-made.

    Some dogs do not care for toys. Some dogs have weight issues or do not have the stomach for treats. Some dogs do not want to sit still or wear an outfit. For these dogs you can take them to a dog park as a gift. Most cities have parks where owners can take their dogs to run and meet other dogs. Your dog may need a permit to go to these parks. A permit to a dog park would be a gift in itself. You do want to make sure your dog is up to date on his shots as well as having a vaccination for kennel cough--an easily transmitted virus among dogs--before socializing him with other dogs.
    If your dog is not the dog park type or you do not have any accessible dog parks in your area, you could take your dog to a county or state park for some hiking. Make sure the park allows dogs and purchase any necessary permits. If the park has a lake and your dog is a swimmer, take your dog swimming as a birthday treat.
    Another birthday gift idea for a dog who prefers action to material gifts is to arrange a play date for your dog. If you have any friends with dog-friendly dogs, arrange a meeting in a large yard or park that allows dogs and let the dogs play. If you do not have any friends for your dog, put up a flier at your vet or pet food store to find other owners looking for play dates.

    Check your area for a dog spa. Some boutiques have spa services as well. At a dog spa you can have your dog pampered and primped for her birthday. Most spas offer grooming and massage for your dog.
    Any dog will appreciate a home-cooked meal after a lifetime of kibble. "Better Food for Dogs" by Bastin, Ashton and Nixon, D.V.M., and "Barker's Grub" by Rudy Edalati are two examples of dog cookbooks with a variety of meal ideas. You could also opt to bake homemade treats. Cookbooks like Michael Bledsoe's "Doggy Bone Cookbook" and the "Three Dog Bakery Cookbook" by Dan Dye offer a variety of dog treat recipes. "Doggy Bone Cookbook" even comes with its own dog bone shaped cookie cutter.
    If you don't have time to cook for your dog, you can probably find homemade treats or even a birthday cake made for dogs at your local pet boutique or at a bakery that specializes in dogs. You might have to help her blow out the candles.

    About the Author

    Em Connell McCarty has been writing for more than 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She is continuing her study of English and writing at the University of Wisconsin. She writes fiction, creative nonfiction and essays. McCarty's fiction has been published in "Hip Mama" magazine and "Danse Macabre."

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