Pampering Our Pets

The canines and felines in our homes are like cherished family members—and we treat them as such with spa days, shiny bling, healthy foods, holistic medicine and, of course, birthday cakes.

Bet you $59 billion that you love your pet. That’s the approximate amount Americans spend each year on keeping their furry, feathered and finned companions healthy and happy, according to the American Pet Products Association. For the pooch that has just about everything, Samsung has even designed a $39,000 high-tech doghouse complete with treadmill, hot tub and tablet so he can watch his favorite shows or movies. While most of us don’t go in for that level of extravagance, we do like to pamper our favorite canines and felines with the finest food, tasty treats, spa treatments and even a little bling now and then. We’re also unabashed about insisting on the best when it comes to their health and welfare.

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Everyone wants to look svelte for swimsuit season. So if Fido’s physique could use some fine-tuning before he hits the beach, a personal trainer at Limestone Veterinary Hospital in Hockessin (6102 Limestone Road, 239-5415, will put him through his paces on an underwater treadmill. Dogs vacationing at Otter Tail Pet Resort in Delmar (10257 Francis St., 846-2273, can also have 30-minute exercise programs tailored to their specific needs and fitness levels. A dip in the resort’s patio pool is the perfect après-workout cool-down.

Sometimes exercise isn’t enough to shed those unwanted pounds, but don’t call Jenny Craig. Instead take your dog or cat to Savannah Animal Hospital in Lewes (33818 Wescoats Road, 645-8757, for some one-on-one nutrition counseling. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, pets maintaining their ideal body weight tend to live 15 percent longer than overweight or obese ones, so these facilities offer obesity and weight management programs that incorporate calorie restriction and exercise. VCA ( has three facilities in the Wilmington area (650 Peoples Plaza, Glasgow, 834-1118; 1501 Kirkwood Hwy., 737-1098; 1360 Marrows Road, Newark, 737-8100) and one in Dover (1151 S. Governors Ave., 674-1515). The Marrows Road facility also offers 24-hour emergency care.

You’ve probably already added at least a few health-promoting “super-foods” to your own diet, so why not give your four-pawed pals the same benefits? Tumbleweed & Eddie’s Natural Pet Treat Co. in Selbyville makes all-natural, omega-packed snacks with quinoa, chia and flax in flavors such as hamburger and crab cake (855-873-2826, Critter Beach in Rehoboth Beach (156 Rehoboth Ave., 226-2690, carries human-grade, small-batch-baked, wheat-, corn-, soy-, filler-, preservative-, salt- and sugar-free Bocce Bakery Treats in flavors such as “The Elvis” (peanut butter, banana and bacon) and truffle mac and cheese (cheese, bacon and truffle).

Photograph by Kevin Fleming 

A bejeweled Kallie helps Sherry Shupe, owner of Fur-Baby Boutique in Milford, display some of the shop’s Swarovski crystal and pearl necklaces.

Fresh goodies at Tail Bangers All-Natural Dog Treats in Millsboro.

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If your sweetie has a bit of a sweet tooth, you can satisfy it in a healthful way with Tail Bangers All-Natural Dog Treats’ Barkin’ Bon Bons, produced in Millsboro (877-725-2469, They’re made with cinnamon, peanut butter, honey and yogurt. The company’s Canine Cannoli looks like the cream-filled pastry, but delivers the flavors of chicken broth, garlic and oregano. And you can do good for your community while you’re giving your pet a good-for-you treat with products from Wilmington’s Waggies by Maggie & Friends (598-2867,, which employs people with intellectual disabilities. The treats are made with ingredients such as sweet potato, whole-wheat flour, peanut butter and chicken broth.  

Being cute and cuddly all the time can be thirsty work, so pour your pup or kitty some Alphie’s Ale, a private label brew of Fur-Baby Boutique in Milford (204 N.E. Front St., 725-5078, and watch him or her belly up to the bowl to lick up this liquid refresher. This beef- or chicken-
flavored malt barley beverage contains no alcohol or hops and is a good source of B vitamins and glucosamine (for joint health). You can also amp up the haute factor of your furry foodie’s cuisine with a splash of Bark Vineyards Varietals’ Pinot Leasheo or White Sniff-n-Tail alcohol-free, human-grade au jus, also available at Fur-Baby.

When birthday time rolls around, you might be surprised to find out that your pooch is a real party animal. Fur-Baby offers celebration packages including a big blast that features plates, cups, napkins, decorations, paw print balloons, doggie treat bags, a cake and a park ranger to supervise. If you’re planning a family-only fete at home, Tail Bangers makes a yogurt-frosted birthday Bundt cake (the texture is hard, so it’s best for large dogs). Or you can get a cake at Critter Beach that’s made with rolled oats and unsalted peanut butter.

Sometimes a guy or girl needs a spa day to relax and refresh. Fur-Baby offers a range of services including therapeutic mud baths, blueberry facials and hot coconut oil treatments. Wizards of Paws in Rehoboth Beach (19470 Coastal Hwy., Unit 13; 227-9070, and Millsboro (98 Rudder Road, 947-9299) and Playtime Doggie Daycare & Pet Salon in Newark (62 Albe Drive, Ste. E, 368-3100, will help work out the kinks from those roughhousing romps in the dog park with a hydro-jet massaging luxury bath. At Playtime Doggie Daycare, aromatherapy and classical music set the mood for the ultimate spa experience.

Photograph by Kevin Fleming

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Maddie receives a blueberry facial from Brooke Jerman at Fur-Baby Boutique in Milford.

If you can’t get your pet to the spa, Paws and People Too in Middletown (Summit Center, 4390 Summit Bridge Road, 376-8234, will send a chauffeur to bring him in for a water massage bath or other grooming treatment. Furry Godmother in Wilmington (547-2078, and The Pet Nanny in northern New Castle County (383-8453, will also taxi your tail wagger to the vet, groomer or anywhere else he needs to go.

Call Wilmington-based Charmed Paws Mobile Pet Spa (415-2104,, and they’ll bring their primping and pampering services right to your door. With a Bath and Fluff or Bath and Style, you can request some stylish extras such as a temporary tattoo or sparkly derrière design, temporary pet-safe color for his or her fur or a “paw-di-cure,” which includes trim, buffing, polish design and pad moisturizer treatment.

Nothing complements a sleek, shiny coat better than a little bling, and Fur-Baby has just the thing—a Swarovski crystal and pearl necklace (yes, necklace, not collar). Or you might prefer to accessorize with a Swarovski crystal-studded patent-leather collar from P.U.P.S. (Pawsitively Unique Pet Shop) of Lewes (117 Second St., 645-9010,

It would be nice if your dog could just tell you when he or she needs to go outside. While there’s no Rosetta Stone for Rover-speak, you can hang Poochie Bells, available at Yuppy Puppy in Bethany Beach (123 Garfield Pkwy, 537-0171,, on your front door and teach your pup to ring them when it’s potty time.

On chilly nights, it can take more than a fur coat to keep a pet warm. At Concord Pet Food and Supplies ( and PetSmart (, both of which have stores all over Delaware, you can buy a heated bed to keep your canine or cat cozy. For label-conscious critters, PetSmart carries bedding from the Martha Stewart collection.


In a perfect world, you would be able to spend all day every day hanging out with your best buddy. But you don’t have to leave your pet pal pining away for you while you’re at work or running your errands. He or she can have fun, make some new friends (both four- and two-footed) at doggie (or kitty) day care and burn off energy that might otherwise go into tearing up your couch cushions or chewing on your favorite shoes.

At Doggies at the Beach in Rehoboth Beach (18806 John J. Williams Hwy., 644-8200,, all of the staffers have taken American Red Cross Pet First Aid Certification classes. Nichole Bower, owner of Georgetown’s Happy Tails Pet Retreat (19330 Shingle Point Road, 856-7900, is also certified in pet first aid and CPR through the Red Cross.

Instead of just wondering if your darling is having a good time at day care, you can find out firsthand by viewing the webcams at Doggies at the Beach, Newark’s Camp Bow Wow (301 Ruthar Drive, 738-2267, and Dogtopia in Wilmington (2101A Concord Pike, 622-8588, and Elsmere (319 New Road, 998-7877).

For overnight stays, All Aboard Grooming & Kennels in Dagsboro (32978 Dupont Blvd., 732-9268, offers presidential suites with televisions for both cats and dogs. Guests can watch their favorite programs on their own 19-inch flat screens at Happy Tails. Overnighters at Doggies at the Beach are treated to activities including movie night (“Lady and the Tramp,” of course) and disco ball dancing.

At Middletown Veterinary Hospital (366 Warwick Road, 378-2342,, cats can stay in their own multilevel condo with a view of either the outside wild-bird feeder or an aquarium. In addition to dogs and cats, Windcrest Animal Hospital in Wilmington (3705 Lancaster Pike, 998-2995, also boards birds and other exotics, including guinea pigs, ferrets, snakes and turtles.


The owners of Furry Godmother and Content Critter (235-7387, offer the alternative of boarding your dog in their homes. Owner Becky Schellenger lives on-site at Good Dog Inn in Georgetown (28313 Johnson Road, 947-1745, If you would prefer that your pet be cared for in your own home during the day or overnight, Content Critter will accommodate with services ranging from a mid-day potty break to an overnight pajama party. The same goes for Camp Bow Wow, The Pet Nanny and Precious Pet Care in Wilmington (668-7346, Sitters from Get Your Wag On Pet Services (604-8573, even bring their own sleeping bag and pillow so there won’t be any dirty laundry to do when you get home.

Sometimes your pet may experience aches and pains that require serious treatment. At Lums Pond Animal Hospital in Bear (3052 Wrangle Hill Road, 836-5585, and Windcrest Animal Hospital, Dr. Malcolm Kram includes acupuncture among the treatments he uses to decrease pain and inflammation.

Wilmington Animal Hospital (828 Philadelphia Pike, 762-2694, offers a holistic approach to pet health, which includes nutritional therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, low laser therapy and homeopathic treatments. Chiropractic treatments involve a gentle realignment of the spine to relieve a number of medical conditions and enhance mobility and agility. Low-level laser therapy can help to heal wounds and nerve damage and treat conditions such as arthritis. Homeopathy alleviates a wide range of problems from behavioral to medical by using minute doses of natural substances.

Cutting-edge medical treatments are not limited to use on humans. To treat arthritis, joint injuries, ligament and tendon damage and fractured bones, the Veterinary Specialty Center in New Castle (290 Churchmans Road 322-6933, offers adult stem cell/non-embryonic (ASC) therapy. At Windcrest Animal Hospital, many surgeries can be performed using a carbon dioxide laser for less swelling, bleeding and pain, and with higher precision and sterility. 

Like humans, dogs and cats have different needs as they age. Brandywine Hundred Veterinary Hospital in Wilmington (806 Silverside Road, 792-2777, offers senior pet counseling, including nutrition and exercise, to maintain your buddy’s health and quality of life through his or her later years. 

A plaid “paw-di-cure” from Charmed Paws Mobile Pet Spa.


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