National Pet Month Dog Cat Laying on Grass

May is National Pet Month!

Did you know that May is National Pet Month! This monthly observance organized by the National Office Of Animal Health (NOAH) and Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) is designed to raise awareness for responsible pet ownership strategies all month long.

Not only is this the perfect month to spend some more quality time with your pet outdoors in the springtime weather, it’s also a great time to cross-off or double-check some pet preparedness items.

gray cat in the arms of veterinarian

When was their last V-E-T appointment?

It is often recommended that fur babies like dogs and cats be taken to see the vet about once a year for a wellness exam. This is a great way to track your pets growth and development early on, and maintains a common appointment to bring up any concerns you might have about your fur baby’s health.

We know your fur baby might not love going to their yearly appointment, but it’s a very important part of their health at all stages of life. (And they normally get extra treats after, so we know they’ll muscle through it!)

Is your pet chipped?

Roughly 8 million pets wind up in shelters each year, and only around 20% of dogs and 2% of cats are reunited with their pet parents afterward. You can drastically increase the likelihood of recovering your fur baby by having them chipped.

The procedure is about as simple as having blood drawn for your pet and is relatively inexpensive. We know you can’t bear to even think about losing your fur baby, but taking this preventative measure will help you bring them home should anything happen outside of your control.

We recommend using this reminder to either double-check that your pet has been microchipped or to schedule an appointment with your vet!

Are they up to date on vaccines?

When was the last time you had your pets vaccinated? Rabies and Bordetella vaccines are often required in our studio for access to our animal handling services! And it’s important to make sure your fur baby stays safe, happy and healthy when playing with other animals.

Normally rabies vaccines are administered every 1 to 3 years after the initial dose, and we encourage every pet parent to set regular reminders for these appointments.

Remember to snuggle and cuddle them!

Once you are sure that all of the necessary pet care is accomplished we absolutely encourage you to spend extra time with your fur baby this month. On the couch, on a walk, or at a nearby park, we know your fur baby will love the extra attention and love.

Preserve Those Memories in Our Studio!

Of course one of the best ways to celebrate this month would be to schedule an appointment at our studio and create some fun memories! We would love to learn more about your fur baby over the phone and schedule your appointment.

Handling Separation Anxiety as a Pet Parent

Separation anxiety is a very common trait that new pet parents have to tackle when first bringing a dog home. It can be exhibited by destructive behavior, barking, trying to escape the home, or other undesired behaviors while alone in the home. If you’ve recently brought a new fur baby home, it may be possible that your dog could also develop separation anxiety as we transition from a pandemic-centric lifestyle to a somewhat more normal world.

We know how disruptive separation anxiety can be to any home, so we have compiled a list of useful coping techniques that you may be able to implement at home!

Counterconditioning Separation Anxiety

If your dog is exhibiting stressed behavior while you are away, consistently providing them with high-value rewards that take 20-30 minutes to eat can help train them that your absence is actually a good association. A great treat to try is peanut butter, low-fat cream cheese, or canned wet dog food inside of a Kong toy. A bone or other treat that might take a while to eat is also an option.

Simply provide your fur baby with the treat each time you leave the house. Practice in 10 minute increments to start, and increase the length of time for a few practice runs. As soon as you return each time, retrieve the treat and store it away. Give your dog lots of love each time you return and wait for them to calm down completely before you leave for a practice run again.

The goal of this technique is to associate you being out of the house with good feeling and reward. Maintaining this routine should help reduce your pets anxiety over time.

After a while you can feed your dog all of his daily meals in special toys. For example, you can give your dog a KONG or two stuffed with his breakfast and some tasty treats every morning before going to work. Keep in mind, though, that this approach will only work for mild cases of separation anxiety because highly anxious dogs usually won’t eat when their guardians aren’t home.

A Helping Hand

Just because a dog is anxious when you aren’t home doesn’t mean it needs to be YOU that sticks around. If you have a spouse, parent, or friend that can come by and check in on your fur baby while you are gone it may help with separation anxiety – especially early on in a new environment or schedule. If there are no options for someone to come check on your pup, sometimes a doggy daycare option may be a good interim solution.

Exercise Your Dog

dog with no separation anxiety from exercisingProviding lots of physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of treating many behavior problems, especially those involving anxiety. Exercising your dog’s mind and body can greatly enrich his life, decrease stress and provide appropriate outlets for normal dog behaviors. Additionally, a physically and mentally tired dog doesn’t have much excess energy to expend when he’s left alone.

Crate Training

Crate training can be very useful. It can teach dogs that their crate is a “safe space” to go when they are alone. But for some, the confined space may cause more anxiety. To see if crate training is best for your pup, try some test runs at home! Get your pup into their crate with blankets and treats, and stay in the room with them to see what kind of behavior they exhibit. If they seem fairly normal try leaving the room and monitor them again. If they respond with the same anxious behavior regularly, then they might not be a great fit for crate training.


Do not scold or discipline your pet for the behavior. Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.

Talk To Your Vet

There are medications available to help stem anxious behavior in pups. Talking to your vet about different options and treatments may open some new doors for you.

The Best Places to Walk in Hampton Roads

“Social Distance” isn’t a new word in the local vocabulary anymore, and while it’s very important to maintain proper distance at social activities and while performing daily errands, it’s also important to find some time to safely get out of the house with your pup. We think local walking and hiking trails offer a great solution and some new scenery! Our area in Hampton Roads has so much to offer any slightly adventurous family looking to spend some time in the sun or among the trees and natural beauty of our state parks.

  • Mount Trashmore Park – Fun for kiddos, pups, and parents! Mount Trashmore Park has something for everyone. Not to mention the 60- foot tall, 800- foot wide mountain made of solid waste–being quite the eyecatcher, to say the least. This park is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Off-leash areas are limited for pups, but the walking areas make it quite the experience for your pup.
  • First Landing State Park – With 9 trails totaling over 19 miles of walkable and bike-able nature paths First Landing is one of the largest parks in the area. With cheap parking, stunning views, and options for all sorts of distances we really recommend this spot for avid and amateur walkers and their pups! Be sure to give your pup proper flea and tick prevention beforehand though as this trail is in the thick of nature.
  • Oak Grove Lake Park – Located just off Volvo Pkwy, with its lake and scenic open space. There are 65 acres of hardwood forest and wetlands. Picnic tables and benches are scattered along the trail, which provide a mixture of panoramic views of the lake as well as forested areas and wildlife.
  • Noland Trail – While at the time of writing, the Mariner’s Museum is closed due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the vast trail network attached to the museum is still available for use! This 550-acre park offers visitors a quiet and serene place to walk, hike or run amongst rolling woodlands and features the award-winning five-mile Noland Trail that surrounds the 167-acre Mariners’ Lake.
  • Grandview Nature Preserve – A beautiful 2.5-mile trail to the beach. This gem is located in Hampton VA and the surrounding beach makes for a gorgeous morning walk with your pups.
  • Elizabeth River Trail – An adorable 10.5-mile trail to walk/run, that gives you an amazing view of the Norfolk Waterfront! Bike, run, walk, or be tugged along in a wagon if that’s your style– either way this area is endlessly pretty and worth visiting at least once.

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 new years 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.

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.


Pets and Summer Celebrations

Summer is here and that means cookouts, celebrations, and firework-filled nights! We all want to make sure our pets this summer 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.

Contact Us

Pet Photography in Norfolk & Williamsburg, Virginia

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

1430 High St.,
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Suite 1107.

Weekends by Appointment Only.

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