pooch perfect

18 Houston Pet Services and Activities That Are Squad Goals

Pet shops, parks, hotels, groomers, and other hot spots that are simply the best for treating your pet—and yourself—right.

By Gwendolyn Knapp, Laura Furr Mericas, and Kaitlyn Miller May 14, 2021 Published in the Spring 2021 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Swimming (and diving) hole for a good boy or girl 

Whether your doggos are just starting to dip their paws in or live to make a splash, Joasis Dog Swimming & Dock Diving brings the puppy pool party to the GOOF. Created by Jo Dunham in March 2020, the backyard-pool-turned-social-swim-club setup welcomes dog siblings and friends for hour-long sessions of water-based play or instruction. Dunham’s canine dock diving training earned her golden retrievers Goose and Dr. Watson (and 14-year-old human son, Jaxon) national rankings in the fun and friendly sport. If fetching and retrieving aren’t exactly your dog’s speed, there are other options. With lifejackets always available, they are free to choose between a casual swim or soaking up some sun lounging on the grass and large pool steps. —Laura Furr Mericas

24/7 emergency care

When your best buddy is in major distress, there’s no time to research clinics or compare expertise, let alone deal with Houston’s ultimate hassle: Finding parking. Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists know this. At their new state-of-the-art facility, located off I-10 and open around the clock, pull under the overhang (for emergency walk-ins only), pass through the giant automatic doors, and know your pet is in excellent hands. The 30-plus top-notch veterinary team offers a wide array of specializations suited for most emergencies, complicated health concerns, avian and exotic needs from parrots to primates, and cardiology, oncology, and sports medicine treatments (yes, it’s a thing). —LFM 

Image: Haute Pets

A mobile groomer

So you’re a busy pet parent with an anxiety-ridden furball who needs a bath. That’s okay. Haute Pets is ready to roll with a simple, expedited grooming process for dogs and cats that—like everything post-2020—brings the services to you. This tricked-out mobile salon, a pink van that doubles as a grooming, bathing, and spa station, keeps appointments short, sweet, and kennel-free without your ever leaving your driveway. Groomers use all-organic products to eliminate risk of allergic reactions and dry skin, but to bring the pampering next level, opt for a hydrotherapy massage or a pet facial to help your little one relax from his or her oh-so-stressful days of barking, meowing, and lounging on the couch. —LFM

Treats for the taking

Three treats a day keeps the boredom away, according to the experts at Patsy’s Pet Market, and the Katy-based “farm-to-kibble” shop has an array of nutrition-focused options. Founded by Patsy McCray in 2015, the market is known for its supply of wholesome foods, food toppers, chews, and treats—many baked in-house, with gourmet flavors like bison apple and chicken parmesan. McCray only stocks and bakes products that are free of inexpensive fillers (no animal by-products, corn, wheat, soy, or cornmeal here) and instead focuses on foods and treats with important nutrients and health supplements that’ll keep dogs and cats healthy, spry, and begging for more. —LFM

A chill boarding hot spot

K9 Resorts has made one paw-some impression since opening late last year. Why? Because they treat your cuddly companion like a part of the family. “We want your dog to be just as happy and healthy when they come here as when they go home,” manager Zach Adelstein says. And with cage-free boarding options, premium elevated dog beds, a top-of-the-line PetAirapy UV air purification system, and Microban-infused flooring, your pet can’t help but be comfortable. The staff at K9 prioritizes your pup’s mental well-being whether you’re boarding or dropping off for day care or a bath, which is why they don’t offer grooming, nail trimming, or any services that might lead your buddy to associate them with anything negative. “We don’t want dogs to be nervous every time they walk through that door,” Adelstein says. —Kaitlyn Miller

Room service

So far the posh Post Oak has hosted about 200 pets (mostly dogs, a few cats, and one parrot) since its debut in 2018 with pet amenities “to make them feel pampered while they’re here,” says general manager Steven Chou—including welcome treats, a custom dog park with plenty of fire hydrants, plush pet beds, food and water bowls, and a room service meal offering chopped filet mignon and a pet-friendly banana bread, the Banana “A La Bark”—but locals love to bring their dogs to this bustling social hub, too. “We definitely welcome them with open arms,” Chou says. He once even set up a photo shoot for a local’s Great Dane-Shepherd mix all over the hotel (side note: there is a 100-pound weight limit for dogs staying the night). “When you have a dog in the lobby, it just brightens everything up a bit,” he says. “The cuter, the better.” —Gwendolyn Knapp

A safe place to turn your poodle pink

After witnessing abuse while working at a grooming salon when she was a teen, Shelby Hooper knew she had to do something about it. Four years ago, armed with a bachelor’s in biology and a huge passion for pups, Hooper started Pink Poochies, a mobile grooming service in Pearland and Missouri City with a mission that no dog would ever be mistreated in their care. “It was something that I owed myself and I owed the dogs,” she says. Pooches who come in are downright pampered by Hooper and her team. They do it all, from nail trims to fresh dye jobs—yes, Pink Poochies can indeed dye your pooch pink—all with a nanny camera, so you can watch. You can even talk to your pet through the camera to make you both feel at ease—a little salon FaceTime never hurt nobody. —KM

A cooped-up cooperative

Chickens are true pets with benefits. “I would say at least 60 to 70 percent of our clients consider their chickens pets,” says "Chicken Mike." A productive chicken can lay between 250 and 300 eggs per year, plus having them around is a gardener’s dream: you’ll never have to buy fertilizer again, says Nicole Graham, founder of The Garden Hen. If you’re looking to upgrade your current hencoop setup, or to start your own flock, look no further. Don’t think you could get attached to a hen? “I literally just walked in the door one day and had purchased five baby chicks,” Graham says. “My husband goes, ‘Okay, what are you going to do with those guys?’” Today her company, which she operates with said husband—the aforementioned “Chicken Mike”—builds custom coops for backyards, sells hens, running from chicks to full-grown Frizzle Silkies (like adorable company mascot Pinecone), and offers care services to Houston’s growing hen-obsessed population. Houston allows up to 30 chickens (no roosters), so long as they’re 100 feet from a neighbor. Despite misconceptions, hens aren’t loud, says Chicken Mike, but they are social—“I would advise getting at least two.” —GK

Image: Fish Gallery

A swank tank setup

Known for incredible custom tank builds—behold, the 5,000-gallon custom freshwater tank that houses a Fly River Turtle right inside the door—the 35-year-old Fish Gallery can help you deck out an amazing aquatic setup, but the pros here also help neophytes pursue a groovy aquarium trend on their own terms: “GloFish, they’re really popular with kids,” Dean Tapper, vice president of parent company Pet Yards Development, says. “What happens is these fish have been bred with the pigmentation of jellyfish, so when you put a black light over them, it makes them glow like a highlighter.” Go all-in with the store’s wide selection of glow-in-the-dark decor (skulls! toilets! fake plants!) too. Although a good setup isn’t cheap—fish range from $3 to $100 each, and, says Tapper, a nice aquarium can run from $1,500 to $2,000—it’s well worth the investment. “Neon tetras, big schools of them in a tank, really look impressive,” he says. Far out, man. —GK

Play time for the lil’ guys

The team at Montrose’s Best Little Dog House in Texas believes small dogs deserve big fun too. This doggie day care specializes in playtime for pups 35 pounds and below, as well as cage-free boarding and stylish grooming options. Teacup, mini, and toy breeds can prance with confidence throughout the indoor and outdoor play yards, while mid-sized guys can also engage in a game of fetch. Overnighters get to retire to the sleeping room’s leather sofas to snuggle up (with an on-site staffer nearby) and dream of doing it all again tomorrow. —LFM

A busy dog parent proxy

We hate to break it to you: In a post-pandemic world, those long midday walks will likely be traded for a sad desk lunch for you. But that doesn’t mean your pup has to suffer. Enter My Dog Butler, Houston’s trusted pet service provider. Unlike for-hire-based apps, My Dog Butler employs a team of nine trained and enthusiastic staff members who execute customized activity regimens for your good boy or girl, with options for 20- , 40-, and 60-minute sessions based on their activity levels. They also pet-sit for fido and felines alike. The best part? Humans can see just how happy their pet is on MDB’s custom app, which shares photos, report cards, and GPS info from every visit. —LFM 

A way to cool off (without a pool).  

Tucked away in sleepy downtown League City, Kahuna Joe’s not only rocks some of the best frozen goodies in the Greater Houston area—including luscious Hawaiian shaved ice stuffed with ice cream—this gem is completely dog friendly, with Frosty Paws frozen peanut butter treats (kind of like a doggy Italian ice) ensuring everyone in the family will be howlin’ “Brainfreeze!”  as they vie for a seat on the shop’s giant selfie-worthy deck chair. —GK

A coming attraction

In the works since 2017 (as part of Hermann Park Conservancy’s latest 20-year master plan), the new off-leash 2.5-acre McWilliams Dog Park—designed by landscape architect Lauren Griffith—at South MacGregor Way on Brays Bayou will soon be another place for you and your barking baby to go have a little recreation. It will have both small- and big-dog areas, interactive water features, tons of shade, and even its own parking lot when it opens next year. —GK

A dog park worth the drive 

Load ’em up and hit the road—to Clear Lake anyways, where Bay Area Park, tucked away on sleepy, beautiful Armand Bayou, attracts dogs of every ilk thanks to its expansive, shady dog park for big guys and little guys (under 20 pounds), complete with wash bays, trails, fountains, and open space to roam. Your pups might also enjoy a leashed walk down to the water—not too close, though, there are gators—for one of the best sunset-watching destinations in town. —GK

A catsitter that even your cats will, well, tolerate

Caroline Buchalter started Supurrior Sitting in 2015 for folks, like her, whose cats are their entire world. “I had a few bad experiences, where I came home and there was like no food or no water,” she says. “My house was a mess, and I didn’t really understand why I couldn’t find quality care.” When you need a cat whisperer, and someone who not only respects your home but will bring in the mail, Buchalter (whose own cats are Binx, Shyra, and Finley) is the sitter to call. Today she has around 300 Houston cat households as clients, which—sorry, dog people—she counts as living the dream. “Who doesn’t want to hang out with cats all day?” —GK

Happy hour patio sesh

Sipping spirits with your most trusted companion in tow is great until they’re pulling their leash and trying to greet every good boy and girl who passes nearby. But at Brian Ching’s East End Backyard, with its 3,500-square-foot fenced-in bark park, dogs can be dogs. Let ’em romp off-leash while you sip on your choice of 25 beers on tap and cocktails at tables inside an enclosed area. Attention, dogs: Once all butts have been sniffed and zoomies zoomed, herd your humans to the rest of the massive outdoor space that’s meant to evoke the feeling of an expanded backyard … just with more furry friends for you and a little more booze for Mommy. —LFM

Pet taxis

Though Shaina Nelson’s Texas Pet Concierge walks roughly two dozen dogs a day in Houston—and is known as one of the best pet-sitting services in town—it’s her taxi service that really makes the five-year-old business qualify as a true concierge. For $20 per half hour, Nelson and her team (most of them vet techs) also shuttle pets to vet or groomer appointments or run their errands (sorry, no human errands). Either way, Nelson says, “We try to be, basically, an extension of the pet owner during that time.” —GK

A baller parrot setup

“If you want to put a great big bird in a little flimsy cage, it won’t last long,” says Adventures in Birds's Gary Foster. Your feathered friend needs room to walk, stretch, and flap its wings, and Foster, founder Jean Jordan (above), and the team are on hand to help sort out what accommodations will be most appropriate. Deck it out with colorful toys from this beloved Spring Branch store’s unbeatable selection—go for products you don’t mind your pretty bird rough-housing with, Foster suggests. “Bigger birds are destructive, so you want to give them appropriate things to tear up instead of things like your blinds, wood trim, and picture frames.” —KM

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