Planning Your Pet Party

Pet parents see their animals as members of the family who are entitled to all the same perks of a child or spouse. According to the Pet Manufacturers Association, roughly 4 million dog owners and 3 million cat owners report throwing a birthday party for their pet every year. Millions of other pet lovers are known to buy presents for their pets to mark special occasions.

Many retailers are recognizing this growing trend. Customers can now find pet stationery and invitations specially designed for pet parties. Some pet boutiques offer registries for pet gifts. Other places specialize in catering to dogs and cats, such as doggie daycare and exercise venues. Enterprising individuals have learned that they can make money on pet parties and offer all of the bells and whistles of a traditional party -- from invitations to goodie bags.

If you plan to throw a pet party, the key is to engage both the pets and the pet parents with the activities, say experts. Here are some other tips:

* Invite only sociable dogs or cats.

* Have a fenced or penned-in area for unruly guests or younger animals that need a break.

* Keep the guest list manageable.

* Plan activities that people can play with their pets (such as a pinata stuffed with dog treats).

* Use only safe decorations, avoiding balloons or other items that may inadvertently be eaten.

* Provide snacks for both the humans and pets.

* Keep plenty of fresh water on hand.

* Have the party at a venue that enables the pets to spread out.

* Keep cleaning supplies handy in the event of accidents.

* Plan the party much in the same way you would a child's party, keeping the length similar for short attention spans.

* Dream up a theme and go with it. Remember, the party is more about the adults having fun than the pets.

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