10 Ways To Celebrate Your Dogs Birthday On The Cheap

How do you celebrate your dog’s birthday or “Gotcha Day”? Celebrating your dog’s birthday can be done in many fun ways. Do you know you don’t have to spend a lot to make it fun? I love celebrating my dog, Henry’s birthday. While I’m certain he would be happy with whatever I did for him, it’s fun to spoil him just a bit on his “birthday”. Today, let’s dig into and learn how to celebrate your dogs birthday on the cheap. I’m certain some of these will surprise you and my dog, Henry will tell you they’re all dog approved.

*Update: May 22, 2023

Yes you can celebrate your dogs birthday on the cheap says a cute German shepherd
Budget Tip:

Honestly some of Henry's most favorite things don't cost a penny. Such as a good snuggle or a long leisurely hike. He's thrilled and his dog budget is happy too. 

Whatever you do for your dog on his/her birthday, do it with love and your dog will love it! It's not the things, it's the experiences. And that's great for you, your dog, and your budget! Win-Win-Win! Or maybe that should be a happy birthday dance? Hmmm..

Is it okay to celebrate my dog’s birthday?

This has been asked of me a few times and I say without hesitation, YES!!! Why not? If your dog brings you joy and you consider your dog part of your family, celebrate your dog’s birthday. I do.

What are some fun ways to celebrate my dog’s birthday?

Of course, you can go all out, but I say why? Your dog will appreciate and love anything you do for him or her. I actually think Henry likes the free gifts better than any store-bought gift. Maybe I’m wearing off on him, but he does give more wags with the free gifts. Here are Henry’s best-loved and waggable birthday gift ideas.

1. Extra pets and massage 

Henry has a few spots he really likes petted and even massaged. I’ll bet your dog is the same way. For instance, Henry especially likes his back massaged. He’d probably sit for hours if I was willing to massage his back for that long. Also, he enjoys his ears and chin massaged. It’s easy, yet it doesn’t cost a thing.

Henry dog birthday idea #1 massage. This could be Henry's absolute favorite way to celebrate dogs birthday on the cheap.
Henry naps after receiving a dog massage.

Do you know how to give your dog a massage? In this article, I walk you through how to massage your dog and why you should do it. Honestly, if your dog is like Henry you may find your pup begging for a good massage.

Cost: FREE

2. Annual dog’s birthday walk or hike 

Exploring a new area to walk or hike is always fun. Henry likes exploring new areas. However, he also has a few favorite spots he really loves to go hiking as well. In fact, when he figures out in the car that we are going to one of these spots he starts “talking” with an eager whine, and his tail goes to “fast” mode. I always equate these spots as his “Disneyland” with how much he enjoys being there. Does your dog have any special places he or she really loves to walk or hike and explore? This could be a great birthday adventure.

The day I adopted Henry (his birthday or Gotcha Day) I took him to this park. It’s now an annual tradition.

Henry dog birthday idea #2 hike. One of Henry's favorite ways to celebrate dogs birthday on the cheap.
Henry starts out for his annual birthday hike.

Worried about hiking because you don’t want to hurt your back? Learn how to save your back and still have fun hiking with your dog in this article.  

Cost: FREE

3. Dog’s birthday playdate 

Playing with other dogs is a fun activity for most dogs. Henry has a few dog playmates he really likes to play with on any day. But his birthday would be an especially great day for a playdate. Plus, it’s a cheap dog birthday gift. Does your dog have any dog playmates he or she would like to play with for a birthday surprise?

Are you concerned your backyard isn’t secure for your dog? Do you know there are cheap portable and even temporary dog fences? Find out about them in this article.

Cost: FREE

4. Play games 

Most dogs really like playing fetch, frisbee, or tug-of-war. Even if your dog doesn’t like the traditional dog games, he probably has his own version of “dog games.” For example, Henry doesn’t understand the concept of “toys” or anything that goes along with a toy. There are other options for Henry. Such as a game of chase.

Are you like me and think something is wrong with your dog because he or she doesn’t like dog toys? Henry taught me how to play with him the way he likes. Learn what a dog that doesn’t like toys really wants for playtime.

Cost: FREE

5. Fun dog’s birthday scent games 

Another fun game for your dog is a smell or scent game. This type of game is fun and engages your dog’s sense of smell. There are many ways to engage your dog in scent games. The concept is to hide a treat somewhere without your dog looking.

Then let your dog loose and let him try to find it. You could hide a treat in a box, under a cup, or even under a pile of his toys. Remember, it is only a pea-sized treat to satisfy your dog and activate his sense of smell for the game.

Henry dog birthday idea #5 scent game. Another great way to celebrate dogs birthday on the cheap.
Henry collected all the eggs with treats inside. Scent game won!

Think you’re spending too much on your dog’s treats? Learn how to make your own homemade dog treats and discover how much you can save in this article.

Cost: $ (cost of treats)

6. Dog’s birthday DIY toys and gifts 

If your dog likes toys, a cheap dog birthday gift is making him or her a toy. You could make a tug-of-war, stuffie, chewer, or even mental stimulation dog toy, all on the cheap. The other good part about a DIY dog toy is that you can personalize it for your dog. You can add his name, use his favorite colors (or what you think are his favorite colors), or his favorite treats.

Do you know what a “Dog Micro Makeover” is all about? In this article, I walk you through the process, which your dog will love and your budget will as well.

Cost: $

7. Snuggle with a good movie or book 

Many dogs like to just be near their people. What better way to do this than by snuggling down in a big chair, on the couch, or in bed with a good movie on the TV? Or even a great book to read with your best furry birthday kid? Of course, you could even make this more fun by playing a dog-themed movie, like 101 Dalmatians, Pets, or Beethoven. The human kids of the house will love these movies too!

Cost: FREE (assuming you have the movie or book)

8. Dog’s birthday date 

Of course, your dog loves dates! Think about how you love going on a date. Your dog loves to explore and be with you and that makes for a great day for your dog. You can even take your partner and make it a human/dog date event, which can be super fun!

Not sure what or where to take your dog and partner on a date? Here are 25 great ideas that are all fun and very budget-friendly.

Cost: Free – $$

9. Dog’s birthday DIY accessories 

It’s always fun to put on a hat when celebrating a birthday. Your dog’s birthday is no exception! There are many different ways to dress your dog for his special day. You can make a simple, but cute birthday hat. Or you could make an adorable DIY tie. Perhaps, you’d even like to try your hand at a no-sew birthday bandana collar. All of these are simple and cheap DIY birthday dog accessories.

Cost: $

Make it even easier

However, if you feel overwhelmed with one more task on your plate, another great and cheap option is the Dollar Store for a package of kids’ birthday hats. This is generally my option because life always seems to get in the way of my good intentions. The best part of this option is that you get 10 in a package. I’ve been working on my package for several years.

Cost: $-$$

10. Fun birthday dog photos 

Finally, no birthday is complete without a few photos to mark the day. Make sure your dog has on his birthday gear and mark his day with a great photo or a few.

Henry dog birthday idea #10 photos. It's a great way to celebrate dogs birthday on the cheap.
Henry’s annual birthday photo with his birthday hat!

Photo taking tricks

Now, you may be asking how do you get a dog to look at the camera long enough to snap a good shot? My trick is to make the oddest noises possible. Or I will ask him if he wants to see one of his favorite people or dog buddies. This will cause him to look at me and twist his head, which is perfect for a cute photo. However, sometimes a good dog photo is an action photo or one where he is looking away. Be prepared to take a few shots to land on the ones you are satisfied with keeping.

Cost: FREE

Related posts:

Henry making a dog birthday wish. He definitely knows how to celebrate dogs birthday on the cheap.
Henry loves celebrating his birthday – and make a birthday wish!

Summary of how to celebrate your dogs birthday the cheap 

Celebrating a birthday should always be fun. This includes your dog’s birthday. Today, we discovered how to celebrate our dog’s birthday on a tight budget. After all our dogs really just want us, not all the other stuff. Although there are lots of great ways to save money while celebrating your dog’s special day Henry has his favorites. They include a good massage, a hike to his favorite spot, playing with a dog friend, and snuggling with a good dog movie.

Although, he’ll never turn his nose up at a homemade doggie treat. I always mark the day with a sweet photo too. Though, I admit that he may not like the photo as much as I do. But he loves the cookie he gets for sitting pretty for it.

no need to break the bank to celebrate your dogs birthday on the cheap says a cute pup ready to rock his birthday

How do you celebrate your dog’s birthday? Share your best dog birthday celebration ideas. 

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

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