The minute your pet walked into your life, everything changed. You nabbed an instant best friend who you get to watch grow from stranger to family member. If your dog or cat entered your world as a puppy or kitty, you quite literally get to watch them grow and learn every single day. And all pet parents know that all the milestones are precious, and you don’t want to miss even one! Here are some of the biggest ones to celebrate throughout the year.
- Their Birthday—Your dog or cat’s birthday was one of the best days of your life, so you definitely want to celebrate this one every year. For the big first birthday, get all the neighborhood animals—plus your two-legged friends and family members—together for a fiesta. Celebrate each year with a fancy new squeaky toy (or some catnip) and a homemade pet cake. Be sure to create your own birthday traditions each year, like a trip to the pet store or dog park.
- Their ‘Gotcha’ Day—Gotcha Day is the special day a person or animal joins their family by adoption. It’s especially important for pet parents who don’t know the exact birthday or history of their furry friend due to them having multiple owners or an unknown life history. Even if you do know your pet’s actual birthday, as anyone with a beloved furry family member can attest, his or her Gotcha Day is one of the most memorable moments during your life together! We all remember that first ride home and wet kiss!
- The Day They’re Officially Potty Trained—If you got your little guy as a puppy, you know what a big deal this is! And, since positive reinforcement and rewards are recommended by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a great way to train and bond with a pet, this is one milestone where it’s definitely A-OK to pile on the kisses, snuggles, treats and toys. You can—and should—celebrate all the big developments in behavior and training as your pet gets older.
- Their Obedience School Graduation—Ah, you must be so proud! Your pup passed puppy school! This is a huge deal and means that your pet is ready for a long life of behaving well in your household. To celebrate your pup’s transition into adulthood, surprise her with a cute dog bandana that shows her big personality. Whether she’s shy, spunky or protective of her owners, there’s a pup scarf to help celebrate it.
- Christmas—We just love Christmas with our pets because it’s SO cute to hang doggie and kitty stockings from the fireplace. Oh, and then there’s the fun part—filling them up and watching them dig through them on Christmas morning! You could start a memorable tradition of sending out funny photo cards featuring your favorite furry model or taking your pets to meet and take pictures with Santa at the mall or pet store. You could also dress them up for the holidays, because nothing’s cuter than a cat in jingle bells and a dog in a Santa hat!
- National Pet Days—National Dog Day takes place annually on August 26 to celebrate all dog breeds, pure and mixed, and to help shed light on the number of dogs in need of rescue each year. National Cat Day, which takes place on October 29, also helps raise awareness for animals in need. To celebrate, consider making a donation to the pet rescue of your choice—maybe the one where you got your pup?—in your pet’s name. Some other pet-related days to celebrate annually include:
- National Dress Up Your Pet Day (January 14)
- Love Your Pet Day (February 20)
- National Walk Your Dog Day (February 22)
- World Spay Day (February 26)
- National Pet Day (April 11)
- Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day (April 21)
- International Chihuahua Appreciation Day (May 14)
- National Hug Your Cat Day (June 4)
- National Best Friends Day (June 8)
- Take Your Dog to Work Day (June 21)
- National Dog Day (August 26)
- National Black Dog Day (October 1)
- National Pit Bull Awareness Day (October 26)
- National Cat Day (October 29)
- National Black Cat Day (November 17)
- National Mutt Day (December 2)
- Their First Swim—If you have a dog who won’t stay out of the water—we’re looking at all the labs, goldens and Newfies out there—then you’ll probably vividly remember the first time they went for a dip. Although you may have had to provide some gentle guidance, they eventually doggie-paddled their way to success and you haven’t been able to keep them out of the water since! The same goes for their first dock jump, dog show or agility competition.
- The First Visit to the Vet—Your pet’s first vet visit is definitely an occasion to celebrate! If you rescued or found her, that very first visit will be quite illuminating, cluing you into her age, breed and any possible health concerns. Celebrate the first vet visit with some special treats and a belly-scratching session or two to mark the occasion.
Every Day Is a Celebration with Your Pet
Pets are such an important part of our lives, especially because we know our time with them is short. Turning every holiday or milestone into an event to celebrate will help ensure that you don’t take a single second for granted and that every day is a pet-centric day. As all pet owners know, those dog years sure do go by fast, so every single one should be cherished!