Just a generation or two ago, it might have seemed crazy to perform aromatherapy on your pup or commission a portrait of your cat dressed as an astronaut, whereas now…Okay, those things are still a little crazy, but the impulse behind them isn’t. These days, pets are right up there with immediate family members on the significant other scale. Kids are great, but they grow up and leave for college. Also great? Spouses—except after a hard day at work, when they’re balancing your checkbook or forgetting to pick up your mother at the airport.

Pets, on the other hand, are always there for you. Always happy to see you. Always ready to cuddle. Always letting you choose what to watch on Netflix. Why not give them some special treatment from time to time? Would it be that much trouble to buy a bone-shaped swimming pond or create an Instagram account devoted to their daily wardrobe? We think not. And it’s in that spirit that we present the following guide, chock-full of pet-owning wisdom and ways to spoil your furry—and not so furry—kids rotten. —Katharine Shilcutt

In This Feature:

Barks and Recreation: Houston’s 10 Best Dog Parks

It’s a good time to be a pooch in the Bayou City.

03/09/2015 By Katharine Shilcutt

Pet Fancy: 5 Gifts for the Animal (or Animal Lover) in Your Life

A gift guide for those discerning beasts who will settle for nothing but the best.

03/09/2015

6 Places to Pamper Your Pet

Pet owners who demand the very best for your four-legged friends, this is for you.

03/09/2015 By Catherine Matusow and Michael Hardy

Pup-Coming Events

Mark your calendars, animal lovers.

03/09/2015 By Michael Hardy

Into the Wild: Meet 3 of Houston’s Best-Known Exotic Pets

Three Houstonia pets that aren’t cats or dogs: their praises and possible pitfalls

03/09/2015 By Chris Abshire

4 Pet Shops for Exotic Tastes

If dogs and cats just aren’t for you, these stores can fulfill all tastes unconventional.

03/09/2015 By Catherine Matusow