Author: Erin Bonilla

3 Tips to Keep Your Dog Happier this Winter

When the temperature drops we stack layer upon layer of warm winter apparel on ourselves – from turtle necks to scarves and fluffy jackets we make big changes from December to March in Hampton Roads. But what changes are we making for our pets? The ASPCA has a great article on cold weather safety and amazing tips for all sorts of pet-related care. We would like to highlight three easy-to-implement changes that make the most sense for our area!

Extra Treats and Snacks

It’s estimated that we buy twice as many calories in the first three months of the year than any of the others. Part of that could be due to us expending more energy keeping warm! We shiver, our body has to work harder, and we need more calories as a result. Well the same can be true of your pet! The ASPCA says –  “Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.”

We suggest taking this opportunity to try some new fun pet recipes! Here are a few different options for most dog diets from The Dog Bakery!

Freedom From Bath Time

Have you ever noticed that we start needing things like chap sticks, lotion, and other skin treatments during the winter months? When the air outside is cold and dry, the water in your skin evaporates more quickly; this makes your skin feel dry and tight, and makes it look flaky. Again this is also true for you dog! Flaky or dry skin can be made worse when  you bathe your pet frequently. Soaps and shampoos often strip fur and skin of natural oils, leading to more dandruff and flakes.

If you absolutely must bathe your pet it is recommended by the ASPCA to “ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse,” in order to rehydrate your fur babies fur.

Snuggle Up

This tip is simple and easy! Remember how we mentioned us layering up during the winter? Well your pet might need to as well! If you find yourself reaching for the heavy blanket in January, make sure to put an extra pet blanket in your pets sleeping areas as well! We know your pooch will appreciate the extra cuddly space. Or you can also allow your dog to cuddle up with you in your bed from time to time! You may just find that you benefit from having a warm fuzzy friend and the foot of your bed on cold mornings.

Pet Friendly New Years Resolutions

2021 is here and 2020 is in the rearview mirror. It’s the perfect time to make resolutions and set goals – and include your pet in your resolutions! Your pet is an important part of your life, and they should be part of your planning and happiness for the foreseeable future, right? Listed below are three resolutions we think will bring you and your pet closer together in 2021.

“Be More Active”

It is estimated that almost 40% of New Years resolutions are related to cultivating a healthier lifestyle. And while many of these resolutions ultimately fall short of their goal, there are ways to improve your chances and stay on track. One motivator can be a partner! And what better partner than your dog? Research shows that exercising with a partner can increase motivation and extend your average workout time significantly. A 15 minute walk may turn into a 30 minute squirrel-hunting adventure for you and your pet after all!

“Less Screen Time”

Did you know that the average American spends 3 hours and 43 minutes on mobile devices each day. Over the course of a year that adds up to a staggering 50 days cumulatively spent online. And while our phones and devices are useful tools (you’re likely using one right now to read this) they also disengage us from the world around us. What better way to reduce screen time, and be more present than to spend some offline time with your pet? They will love the attention and feel the love, and you benefit by making more memories with them in 2021. Dedicating just 30 minutes a day to being present and available for your pets amounts to almost a week at the end of the year.

“Make New Memories”

Life is short and making and preserving memories is so important. Make the decision this year to preserve memories of your pet with everything from social media photos, personalized mementos, or a classic portrait of you both. We speak to families every week that love the memories made in our studio, and often get emotional during our sessions and reveals. The bond you share with your pet is so important, and it’s important that you cherish it.

guinea pigs on a brown fuzzy blanket small pets pet portrait pet photography

The Wonderful World Of Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs make for fabulous pets, in so many ways. Being less fragile than rabbits or hamsters, while not being nearly as skittish as other kinds of rodents– they can be a perfect fit for many households. Today we’re going to get into everything you need to know about guinea pigs, and how to choose the right one for you.

5 things that make guinea pigs one endlessly cool pet to have:

  1. In comparison to most animals, guinea pigs are by far one of the ​easiest to care for​ household pets.
  2. Guinea pigs are ​social animals​, so having multiple at one time is a fairly easy thing to do. Once warmed up to their owners, they love to be held and shown affection. Making them great pets for kids!
  3. When a guinea pig is nice and healthy, they have a typically ​long life span. Most of which living 5-7 years, and on occasion making it into their teen years!
  4. “​ Popping”​ Some guinea pigs have a funny little quirk where they ​jump up in the air and ​squeal​ while shocking the first few times you see it– this is something most guinea owners find absolutely adorable​.
  5. Guinea pigs genuinely ​love humans​ and interacting with them. Unlike other rodents, they are very well suited for individuals who love frequent one-on-one time with their pets.

Guinea pig dietary needs:

Guinea pigs are​ herbivores​, this means that their diet is made up of plants,​ fruits​, and ​vegetables​. They eat in the morning and evening, and the base of their diet is hay and or food pellets. A diet of hay or pellets and fruits/vegetables here

and there is a great way to keep your guinea pig their most happy and healthy self.

Tip–​ Keeping in mind the ​sugar content​ in fruits, feeding your guinea pig fewer fruits and more vegetables is ideal. It’s very important for the happiness of their tummy, that you find a balance regarding the number of fruits, vegetables, and treats you give your guinea pig.

For more information, check out t​his link​ to Petco.com’s page on guinea pig care.

Top 10 musts on how to care for a guinea pig:

  1. Your guinea pig will need a spacious cage​, big enough to give them and any other guinea’s you have the room they need. This can be fairly large, depending on how many you intend to home in one cage.
  2. A well-balanced​ diet​,before adding a guinea pig to your family– doing research on the best ways to feed them/what to feed them is a ​must​. Like any other animal, they have a very specific set of needs, but once you get the hang of those needs, owning one is a breeze.
  3. Playtime, guinea pigs are very ​social animals​. Especially if they don’t have a brother or sister guinea to keep them company, make sure that you or a family member can carve a little ​time​ out of each day to love them up.
  4. Toy selection. Buying your pet’s toys can be a very fun process, and every guinea owner should keep in mind a few things: -Getting a little crafty, can go a long way when making pet toys. And although guinea pigs do enjoy chewing on cardboard, it is recommended that you not give your guinea used toilet paper rolls​ to chew. As glues used on the rolls can be harmful, and the cardboard can cause ​digestive issues.​ For a great alternative, click here​.

-When buying your guinea pig wood toys/ structures, be sure to check for splinters​ in the wood before giving them to your pet. And if you see any, just go ahead and tug them off for an ​easy fix!​

-Guinea’s love to hide​, so consider buying them an edible house​ to scurry into. It makes for both a lovely place to nap and a tasty snack.

– Felt based beds and blankets make for super cozy places to cuddle up in, and endless fun for a hide-n-seek loving guinea. As fabrics of any kind + pets often = STINKY.​ Just be sure to use pet-friendly cleaners​ when washing, and to air dry those bad boys.

How to pick the right guinea pig for you:

For a pet lover or family looking into a guinea pig, it can be very important to find the one that fits best with your family and to know your options when buying. Here are a few tips on how to find the best one for you​.

  • Look into​ local shelters,​ a surprising amount of shelters have lovely guinea pigs just looking for the perfect home. So give your local shelter a call, and ask about their availability!
  • Take some time to sit with a guinea pig that you are meeting, so you can get to know their personality.​ It’s a bit scary meeting a new person, so some guinea pigs will be scared or timid. A little one-on-one time goes a long way towards seeing an animal’s true personality.
  •  Keep the possibility of an ​allergy​ in mind. Before purchasing a guinea, go meet and hold a guinea pig at a shelter/pet store if you (or any family members) can. This can be a great way to make sure there’s no​ itchy bumps​ or ​watering eyes​ to come!
  • Find a place in your home suited to house a guinea pig cage, as they’re​ larger than a hamster cage you want to make sure you have ​enough room​ to suit their needs.
  • Trust your ​instincts,​ you know better than anyone what you or your family is looking for in the perfect pet! Every animal has its own unique personality. Go with your gut, and don’t be afraid to take a chance and hold a potential new guinea friend. Odds are they’re just as ​nervous ​as you are, and could turn out to be your very best friend​ :)

How to find a vet that will see your guinea pig:

As guinea pigs are considered ​exotic animals​, not every vet will accept them as a patient. There are a few ways you can go about doing this, we highly recommend the following.

  • Do a quick google search​ of local vets in your area that takes guinea pigs
  • Ask around and see if any guinea owners have a favorite vet to visit, or know of any​ good locations
  • When all else fails, look into a couple of vets nearest to you and don’t be shy! Call​ to ask them directly about whether or not they see guinea pigs.

For additional info check out the links below for more information on Guinea pigs:

Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Make Great Pets

How To Know If A Guinea Pig Is The Right Pet For You

Things To Know Before Adopting A Guinea Pig

And if you’re interested in capturing the bond you share with your pet, feel free to take a look at our website by ​Clicking Here

The Do’s And Don’ts of Dressing Your Pets Up for Halloween:

 

The popularity of dressing your pets up for Halloween has risen dramatically within the last few years. Cute, scary, and everything in between– this is a trend we welcome with open arms. And here are our thoughts on how to find the best possible costume for your pet.

 Watch out, the force is certainly with this feline.

Watch out, the force is certainly with this feline.

Diving in, safety is a very real factor that should be considered when picking out the perfect costume for your four-legged friend. Below are bullet points listing a few things to keep in mind while perusing your options.

  • You want your animal to be their happiest, most comfortable selves; this can be achieved by making sure their costume is lightweight, does not restrict movement, and does not block their line of vision.

  • Keep in mind that any dangling pieces or embellishments can be confused for a tasty snack, and very quickly become a choking hazard— or the cause of a very upset tummy.

  • Animals are often seen as young children and can require an equal amount of supervision. Upon putting your buddy in a costume, be sure not to leave them alone for long periods of time.

We understand that as much as we enjoy to see them all dressed up, our four-legged friends may require a little more convincing. Whether your puppy can’t sit still, or your feline friend Petunia is a tad worried all that fluff won’t fit into her Princess Leia costume–here are a few tips and tricks to help ease your hesitant pet into putting on a costume.

  • Getting dressed up can be a little stressful for an animal who is not used to doing so. Making sure you’re in a calm, quiet environment while introducing your pet to their costume can go a long way.

  • If your pet seems fairly skittish, be sure to give them a good deal of affection to help them calm down throughout this process.

  • Treats, Treats, and more Treats. It is Halloween after all, giving your animal friend a little something tasty will definitely improve their mood and hopefully make them more willing to work with you.

  • When you’ve got a very excited pupper on your hands, getting them to sit still can be tough, to say the least. A toy on hand to distract them with can be the handiest of tools in this situation.

  • And lastly, you know your furry friend best of all. Do whatever you feel will make them the most comfortable, and most of all have fun.

 Taco-Bout rocking your costume, this pup sure knows how to steal the show.

Taco-Bout rocking your costume, this pup sure knows how to steal the show.

Now, here’s the fun part that we’ve all been waiting for. Picking out the costume you feel fits your buddy the best. Below are 10 of our favorite pet costumes for this Halloween. Be it cute, funny, or scary, we’re sure your four-legged pal will truly knock this Halloweens socks off.

  1. For a dog who wants all eyes on them and a more lightweight costume, a saddled cowboy on their back can make them feel like they’re in the wild, wild west. Can you say “Yeehaw”? Click here to see.

  2. Whether they’re a cowardly lion or a large and in charge pup who wants everyone to know they’re king of the jungle, this mane is sure to put a pep in your dog’s step. Click here to see.

  3. For your feline or small dog who likes to keep surround themselves in a little bit of mystery, this vampire costume will simply drive you batty with its cuteness. Click here to see.

  4. And we’d never forget about our smaller friends. This guinea pig costume lets everyone know that they may be prickly or grumpy on the outside at times, but they sure are sweet on the inside. Click here to see.

  5. For a pup who always saves the day, they’ll be flying high with this super look. Click here to see.

  6. With this Ewok costume, you and your pup can let your geek flag fly. Click here to see.

  7. Who doesn’t love getting a package in the mail? Now imagine an adorable canine delivering it. Sounds like a dream, am I right? Well, this costume makes your dreams come true. Click here to see.

  8. For dogs big and small who can’t wait to make like Freddie Krueger, and tear this Halloween up. Click here to see.

  9. A bewitching getup for the kitty who puts the Bubble, Bubble, Toil, And Trouble into your life. Click here to see.

  10. With this bumblebee costume, a buzz will surely get going about how good your cat/dog looks. Click here to see.

If you would like to learn more about how our artwork can present your fur babies in their best light, click Book Now for more information.

cat blue eyes Christmas photo professional pet portrait

The Purrrrrfect Gifts for Animal Lovers

The holidays are among us! If you still need to find some last-minute gifts for the animal lovers in your life, look no further: I’m here to help.

  1. I Work Hard So My Dogs Can Have a Better Life” T-Shirt:

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/658532959/i-work-hard-so-my-dogs-can-have-a-better?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=animal+lover+gift&ref=sr_gallery-1-4&pro=1

  2. I Work Hard So My Cats Can Have a Better Life” T-Shirt:

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/658535313/i-work-hard-so-my-cats-can-have-a-better?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=animal+lover+gift&ref=sr_gallery-1-10&pro=1

  3. Paw Print Heart Dish:

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/251580388/animal-lover-gift-paw-print-heart-dish?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=animal+lover+gift&ref=sr_gallery-1-21&bes=1&col=1

  4. Rescued is My Favorite Breed” Keychain:

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/566332627/rescued-is-my-favourite-breed-dog-lover?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=animal+lover+gift&ref=sr_gallery-1-48

  5. Be Kind to Every Kind” Wall Art:

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/559547740/be-kind-to-every-kind-quote-print-vegan?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=animal+lover+gift&ref=sr_gallery-2-18

  6. It’s Basically a Zoo in Here” Doormat:

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/592985465/dog-lover-gift-dog-doormat-pets-doormat?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=animal+lover+gift&ref=sr_gallery-2-34

  7. DJ Cat Scratching Pad:

    https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/dj-cat-scratching-pad

  8. A Bonilla Pet Photography Gift Certificate!

    Check out our Facebook for more details: https://www.facebook.com/EBonillaPhoto/

Happy shopping & Holidays, everybody!

Meghan, for Bonilla Pet Photography

Pets Help Mental and Physical Health!

Pets Help Mental and Physical Health!

Most of us have seen the dogs on duty with service vests at the supermarket as we quickly educate our human children why they cannot go up and pet the “pretty puppy.” These dogs help people with a wide array of challenges from blindness to anxiety, but your pet does not need to be a trained service animal to have health benefits for you and your family. In fact, even the scruffiest-looking doggo or sassiest cat adopted from a local shelter can have enormous health benefits to all the humans in your home.

They Lower Blood Pressure

Let’s get to the heart of the matter and discuss how amazing pets are for your cardiovascular health. First off, dog owners are more likely to get activity playing or walking their canine buddies promoting heart healthy activity levels. Furthermore, dogs, cats, and just about any pet will lower your blood pressure by lowering your stress levels.

Pets Improve Mental Health

Better yet, pets have been found to help fight depression, improve self-esteem, and battle loneliness! These benefits are not limited to service pets either. In fact, Mr. Mittens, or your Naked Guinea Pig can improve your mental health without any specialized training at all! Their love, silly antics, and companionship do the trick!

They Improve Human Relationships

Going beyond a cute puppy being a “chick-magnet”, pets have shown to improve relationships humans have with other humans. Pet owners tend to be nicer and are even considered to be more attractive to other pet owners. Furthermore, those in relationships with pets benefit from lowered stress levels causing increased patience and overall happiness with their human relationships.

Pets are amazing creatures that find their way into our hearts. They provide us with unconditional love (yes, even that disdainful kitty loves you deep down!), and a lifetime of memories. The value people place on their pets is absolutely founded when we consider all of the numerous benefits these creatures have on our lives.

Sarrah Isenhour is the Assistant Director of Marketing and Sales at Bonilla Pet Photography. She loves her four finicky feline fur babies and one precocious pooch. Celebrating the bond pet parents have with their pets is her passion, and she actively works with other pet parents to capture their bonds through arranging pet portraits.

 

Any Pet Guarantee

Here at Bonilla Pet Photography, we pride ourselves on our “Any Pet Guarantee.” What this means is that our professional animal handlers are capable of working with any type of pet and their individual personalities. When most people think of a pet, they usually think of a cat or a dog. However, exotic and unique species of animals are becoming more popular as pets every day. We love to work with all types of animals such as cats, dogs, guinea pigs, birds, snakes, pigs, and more! Most animals that come to a new place are super curious and understandably, nervous. However, whether your pet is super hyper and fun-loving, or very shy and nervous, we will make them feel right at home and help them to get comfortable in our studio. We work with all kinds of pets and are capable of making gorgeous portraits of them! Our professional pet handlers are experienced in the animal field from pet stores, humane societies, and veterinary clinics. They are able to read an animals body language and figure out what it is that your pet needs to feel more comfortable. If you are nervous about taking your pet to a portrait studio because of their species, behavior, or personality, please reach out to us and we would be more than happy to create your pet’s portraits!

Any Pet Guarantee means that we can and will work with pets that are:

  • Happy
  • Scared/Fearful
  • Shy/Timid
  • Hyper
  • Disabled/Special Needs
  • Laid Back
  • Any Species
  • Anything else!

Pets and Summer Celebrations

Summer is here and that means cookouts, celebrations, and firework-filled nights! We all want to make sure our pets stay safe during these times. Are you prepared?

Here are some tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Preparing in advance:

  • Make sure your pets – cats and dogs alike – have identification tags with up-to-date information.
  • If your pets aren’t already microchipped, talk with your veterinarian about microchipping. This simple procedure can greatly improve your chances of getting your pets back if they become lost.
  • If your pets are microchipped, make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is up-to-date.
  • Take a current photo of all of your cats, dogs– just in case.
  • If your pet has historically been anxious during celebrations or fireworks, or if you have reason to expect potentially harmful reactions, consider behavioral therapy to desensitize your pet and reduce the risk of problems. Some pets may need medication. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist.
  • Make sure the environment is safe and secure. If your neighbors set off fireworks at an unexpected time, is your yard secure enough to keep your pet contained? Evaluate your options, and choose the safest area for your animals; and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure.

Safety during celebrations:

  • Leave your pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away.
  • Consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.
  • If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.
  • Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.
  • Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets.
  • Don’t let pets get near your barbecue grill while it is in use or still hot.
  • Avoid the urge to feed your pets table scraps or other foods intended for people.
  • Remember that too much sun and heat (and humidity!) can be dangerous to pets. Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot/humid; make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water when outdoors; don’t leave them outside for extended periods in hot weather; and know the signs that a pet may be overheating.
  • Never leave your pet in your car when it’s warm outside. Vehicle interiors heat up much faster than the air around them, and even a short time in a locked car can be dangerous to pets.
  • If you’re travelling out of town for the holiday, consider leaving your pets at home with a pet sitter or boarding them in a kennel. If you need to bring them with you, be sure you know how to keep them safe.

After the celebrations:

  • Check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat.
  • If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets, such as food skewers.

It’s Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month!

When most people think of June their first thought is usually a month filled with warm summer days, family barbecues, and lots of beach trips! However, to the staff at an Animal Shelter, the biggest thought that is running through their minds is kittens, kittens, kittens! The month of June…. and pretty much all of the Spring and Summer season is what is known in the animal care world as “kitten season.” Kitten season is generally described as the time of year when an astonishingly large amount of stray or orphaned kittens and a lot of pregnant cat moms find their way into an animal shelter whether it be by the local animal control picking them up or a kind samaritan bringing them in. During this time most shelters are scrambling to find every foster family and possible resource available to take these moms and kittens until they are big enough and healthy enough to come back and be put up for adoption. This process can take anywhere from one week to a couple of months!

National Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month kicks off every June in hopes of spreading shelter cat awareness and helping to find both help and homes for homeless cats and kittens. It also, again, marks the height of kitten season! Here are a few ways you can help shelter cats and kittens near you:

  1. Fostering- Shelters are always looking for families to foster their cats and kittens! It helps the shelter so that they can keep space available for other animals that are coming through their doors, but it’s an even bigger help to the cats and kittens that are coming in! A lot of cats and kittens that enter a shelter environment are exposed to a plethora of different upper respiratory diseases. They also do not get as much one on one care that they so desperately need since a lot of times shelter staff are stretched taking care of hundreds of shelter animals at a time. Taking a mom and kittens home or even an orphaned group of kittens greatly reduces their chance of being infected and developing complications from URI. They are also able to get the extra one on one love and care that they thrive from so that they remain happy and healthy and can be put up for adoption sooner!
  2. Adopting- Whats better than bringing home a fun, furry, new bundle of joy? Adoption is one of the greatest things you can do for a homeless pet. It’s actually one of the best things you could do for yourself as well! Animals provide an amazing amount of companionship and cats are full of different personalities so there’s always bound to be one that matches what you are looking for! Did I also mention it’s been said that having a pet can lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improves one’s mood? Every year thousands of animals end up at a shelter waiting to find their perfect forever home. If you are interested in bringing home a new furry family member then always remember to stop by your local shelter!
  3. Donating- If you are unable to adopt or foster the next best thing you can do to help is donate! You can donate lots of helpful items such as blankets, heating pads, kitten formula, and other cat care items! A lot of shelters are non-profit, meaning they rely heavily on donations from the public. When there is a big influx of cats and kittens, supplies diminish fast! Donating items to a shelter will help to ensure that moms and kittens will get food, warmth, and all of their basic care to help them grow!

There are numerous ways to help your local shelter cats and kittens! Don’t be afraid to stop by your local shelter to take a look around! You never know, you may just find your new best friend!

“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” by Sigmund Freud

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Pet Photography in Norfolk, Virginia

757.912.5862

300 Monticello Ave,
Norfolk, VA. 23510
Suite 144B.

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