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Puppy safety for the holiday season

Today, in the downtime between our food comas and frenzied Black Friday buying, let’s talk puppy safety this holiday season.  For all puppies born after Christmas 2021 until now this will be their very first holiday season! Huzzah! This also means there will be tons of new experiences and things to explore with their mouths & teeth. 

(OMG Blue is so handsome & a pro at posing. I mean, come on, does a 19 week puppy get any more awesome?)

First let’s talk food. (Cue the holiday baking and the meal hosting.)

We all know the perils of onions, grapes and raisins, but did you know that the spice nutmeg is poisonous to dogs? If you use nutmeg in your cookie recipe don’t share a cookie with your puppy. If you want to share a cookie, leave out the nutmeg. 

Here are helpful foods tips for your puppy (and dogs) this holiday season:

NUTS

  • Pecans, black walnuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts are all toxic to dogs
  • Avoid almonds as your pup’s digestive system can’t break them down well (but they aren’t toxic in case your pup snatches one)
  • Pistachios aren’t toxic, but they can carry juglone, aspergillus mold, or mycotoxins that can cause liver failure. If you want to share one or two with your pup, make sure they are fresh and out of their shells. 
  • English walnuts (the type we classically eat), roasted cashews (no raw cashews for people or dogs!), Brazil nuts, pine nuts, roasted American chestnuts and peanuts are all SAFE for your pup in small amounts. 
  • Serve in small amounts as nuts are fatty and can cause tummy upset

SPICES

  • Garlic (dried & powdered form especially), marjoram, allspice, nutmeg, Bay leaves, cocoa powder, onion powder, curry powder are all TOXIC to dogs. AVOID these!
  • Cloves can be toxic in large amounts, but in a “whoops I dropped one on the floor” amount it won’t cause a problem
  • Vanilla isn’t toxic, but the amount of alcohol used in extracts & flavorings can cause alcohol poisoning in dogs!
  • Chili powder / spicy powders can cause upset & irritated gastrointestinal systems in dogs, though overall they are not toxic

HOLIDAY FOODS

  • Turkey is ok for your pup to eat, avoid giving them bones & skin. Stick to white meat as it is less oily than dark meat.
  • If you’re opting for traditional with a roast goose, or smaller with duck or chicken don’t fret, your dog can eat goose, duck & chicken!
  • Ham is high in sugars and salts, but overall isn’t toxic for dogs. A very small amount of ham is ok, the whole slice is not. 
  • Avoid stuffing – most frequently they contain onion powder, garlic & other spices dogs can’t have!
  • Limit fatty & oily foods (bacon, gravy, turkey skin)  as they can cause pancreatitis (when the pancreas becomes inflamed causing vomiting & abdominal pain
  • Avoid large amounts of dairy as it can cause upset tummies – plus some dogs can’t process lactase well!
  • If you’re making yeast breads, keep the dough away from your pup as the yeast can rise in their stomach! Once the bread or roll has been baked bread & rolls are safe for your pup to eat. 
  • Cookies & sweets should be avoided due to their sugar content (also their potential for nutmeg, cocoa or chocolate added in).

Good for your pup:

  • Sweet potatoes & yams (plain, peeled & cooked), white potatoes with skin peeled off (mashed, chunked or whole ok!), pumpkin, squash, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, peas, celery, corn, leafy greens, cranberries, bananas and apples. Make sure there isn’t any added ingredients such as salt, pepper, butter, sugar or other spices. 
  • MODERATION is key!

If you are hosting guests, make sure they are aware of your table scrap rules and what your pup can or can’t have. Let them know the things your puppy CAN eat. That way when Grandma “sneaks” a snack to your pup there won’t be any tummy troubles or worse. 

(Snow puppy Blue at 20 weeks! Not eating the lights on the fence…)

Once you’ve retired from the holiday table, consider the rest of the elements of the holiday season – decorations, lights & gifts! A first time experience for puppies! All the shiny, fluffy, dangly things, what fun!

Here are some safety points geared towards puppies (though will work for older dogs too!)

  • Christmas tree. If your pup is a persistent pesterer of the tree and it’s decorations, create a barrier to limit how much your puppy can interact with the tree. Work on “leave it” training too! You may want to negate a tree skirt if your puppy thinks its a toy for him. 

  • Ornaments. Make sure all ornaments from nose reach to the floor are non breakable and in materials that are less enticing (ribbon & yarn elements). This may mean the bottom half of your tree is bare, but its a better option than your puppy eating the ornaments or yanking them and the tree down!

  • Candy canes. The same rule as ornaments, hang them above where your puppy can reach with his nose. Sugar free candy canes contain Xylitol which is HIGHLY TOXIC to dogs. Avoid having sugar free candy canes (or any sugar free things like chewing gum) within your dog’s reach. Classic red and white peppermint candy canes won’t hurt your pup if he snatches one, but don’t let him eat the entire thing. Peppermint oil can cause tummy issues and can become toxic in large doses. Plus there’s a ton of sugar and the plastic wrapping the candy cane to be aware of. Or just skip candy canes on the tree so your pup doesn’t have any temptation. 

  • Strands of lights just beg to be chewed! Don’t let your pup chew them as they can get zapped if they chew through the wires! Plus there is a risk of them chewing off the bulbs – bulbs in your pup’s tummy can cause HUGE issues! Don’t wrap your puppy in a strand of lights for pictures (you’re merely asking them to chew the lights) and make sure to practice ample “leave its” when they encounter lights on the tree. Most lights for decoration will be high enough and out of reach, but if you have them lower as a backdrop pay attention to what your pup is munching on and work solidly on “leave its”. 

  • Gifts. Ah what other enticement is as an advertisement to “chew me” than the sharp corners of a crisply wrapped present? Perhaps the open topped fluffy tissue paper filled bag begging to be rooted through then torn apart. You don’t want your puppy tearing into other people presents (and having to rewrap everything) nor do you want your puppy eating all of the wrapping paper, boxes and things inside the gifts. “Leave it” training will come in handy, otherwise the barrier around the tree is going to be the safest place for gifts.

  • Decorative figurines, candles, knick knacks. When decorating your surfaces remember to take into account how tall your puppy is and what surfaces they newly discover as they look up and around. Recently a pretty towel that had been hanging on a pipe shelf in the dining room for an eon was noticed by Blue. He grabbed the towel, gave a big yank and the shelf, sign, vase and knick knacks all went tumbling to the floor (nothing broken). He had walked past this towel since arriving home at 9 weeks… Just be aware that your puppy will be nosey especially when it comes to new things in places they didn’t notice before. Keep breakable things, candles, and essential oils up and out of the way. This rule goes for anything you don’t want your puppy to assume is a wonderful plaything. 

  • Tablecloths & table runners. If your table doesn’t usually have a table cloth, your pup might delight in the drapey, flowy material and find it to be a rather entertaining tug toy. Pending the size of your puppy, your tablecloth may end up completely removed and everything upon it upended. A table runner that hangs over the edges of the table makes for an equally exciting tug toy for your puppy. Work on “leave it”. If you find yourself getting after your pup frequently, either tuck up all the draping edges or remove the tablecloth. 

  • Flowers & plants.  Nearly forgot to mention flowers & plants you may use for decorations or get as gifts. The classic poinsettia plant isn’t as deadly as we all have been told, though it tastes yucky to dogs and can cause nausea & vomiting. It would take a rather large amount of a poinsettia plant to be eaten before it becomes poisonous. Holly, mistletoe, lilies, daffodils and Amaryllis are all quite toxic to dogs (and cats too). Keep them well out of the reach of nosey puppies or skip them as decorations. If family & friends are going to gift you plants, request that they provide dog friendly plants (Christmas cactus anyone?). 
    ** Reference Pet Poison Helpline for all sorts of poisonous plants!

Remember, this is the first holiday season for your puppy and there might be a lot of overwhelm from the hustle and bustle of friends, family, gift opening, food cooking and consuming. Make sure you have a safe, quiet place your puppy can go to chill and nap away from the hustle and bustle. Don’t forget frequent potty breaks. Take some time to go on a walk – not only will it get you out of the busyness of the house but a tired puppy is a chill puppy!

In summation: foods that are toxic for puppies, along with foods that are healthy. Tips for keeping your pup from eating the Christmas tree, the gifts beneath and the decorations & lights about the house. 

These tips will help you have a safe holiday season with your puppy! 


We are in a blog ring with other pet & dog photographers from around the world! Next up visit: Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography in the Endless Mountains of Northeastern PA talks about pet safety tips for the holidays.

Gift guide for dogs & people who love them!

The snow has fallen, the Christmas tunes are playing (egads!) and the tinsel coated holiday season is upon us! This means the gifting and holiday season (Thanksgiving to Christmas, occasionally on to New Years) has arrived! Time for gifts for all the dogs & the people who love them!

This is Blue’s first holiday season and Christmas!

Of course when asked what he would want for Christmas and what he’d recommend for other puppies & dogs, he merely gave me a head tilt and a look of… food, duh! Bwhahaha! Of course that’s what he’d reccommend!

His favorite treats: Bocce’s Bakery and Pure Bites Beef Liver. (Btw Blue says he will take 20 of each in the case that you’re getting him a gift haha!)

His favorite toys: a dollar store plastic bone, a half deflated volleyball, and Racool by Bulltug (Racool is a remnant from Bender, Blue also likes Trash & Seek also by Bulltug!) and Bark toys with squeakers and crunches. 

The following are some EPIC gifts for dogs and dog lovers! No affiliate links, these are just things we love!

Local Minnesota vendors we’ve met at the Minneapolis Pet Market!

For the dog lover:

For the dogs in your life:

Of course you can’t forget a portrait session with us – About A Dog Photography – or some AWESOME swag from Atomic Collars!

Happy early holiday season! Deck your pup and gift yourself or give gifts to the dogs & dog lovers in your life.

Spooky season safety with your pup!

Spooky season is upon us, with Halloween landing on Monday. EEEEEEK! 

I LOVE Halloween!

Once the month of October arrives, the Halloween wardrobe is assembled – nothing overly exotic, just long sleeved tees that range in oranges, some with cute Halloween designs. There is one doozie of a zip up sweater that is an UGLY Halloween ensemble (yes ugly sweaters come in the Halloween variety) that is rather over the top. Paired with an orange hoodie and orange Chucks and we’re ready for spooky season!

This is Blue’s first Halloween! He’s got a multitude of collars perfect for spooky season and a hand me down monster costume with backwards velcro. Being soft, squishy and stuffed, Blue thought it was best to eat and play with the costume vs wear it. What a nut! Luckily with some persistent “leave it” I was able to wrangle the costume, velcro and Blue into collaboration. 

What better background than the Halloween decorated shelves in the living room? Placed Blue on the bins with the extra Halloween decorations and man is this pup superstar! He posed easily, not at all worried that he was two bins high off the ground!

Headed outside and Blue demonstrated the best way to wear a costume then got a bout of the zooms around the yard. 

With it being Blue’s first Halloween it had me thinking about how we would do trick or treating and Halloween activities. 

First – safety tips!

  • If you are handing out candy, secure your dog or cat in a separate room away from the front door. Halloween has the second highest rate of lost pets (4th of the July is the highest). 
  • Make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date and they’re wearing an ID tag just in case they slip out of the house
  • Going trick or treating with your pup? Remember that costumed running, loud kids can be quite scary as they don’t look “normal”. Plus the lack of light can make it harder for a dog to see dark costumes. 
    – If your dog is shy, go slowly. The ideal might be going out earlier in the day with loads of treats and getting the weird costumed people to be rather regular. 
    – If your dog is happy to meet people, make sure to work on some training so they aren’t tempted to jump up to hug every kid walking by because Halloween is awesome, people are awesome, everything is awesome!
    – Otherwise leave your pup safe and cozy at home!
  • Beware of CANDY! Chocolate & raisins are toxic to dogs but did you know sugar free things with Xylitol like chewing gum  MEGA toxic? Gum might not be handed out as a treat, but if someone spits it out in exchange for a piece of candy and it lands in the grass at nose level, your pup might be tempted to eat it. 
    – If you have kids who will be bringing home candy, make sure its stored somewhere out of the reach of dogs to avoid them raiding the stash & getting tummy aches or worse. 
  • Additionally wrappers for candy might be inappropriately discarded and can be picked up by a pup who thinks its a tasty treat. If noshed, they can land in tummies and intestines and possibly not pass.
  • Your pup can help with pumpkin carving, just don’t let them eat too much of the pumpkin. It is good for firming up poops but too much can cause the runs!  Keep your pup away from sharp tools & carve away!

With Blue, I’ve decided to negate handing out candy to trick or treaters.

Blue has stranger danger and his watchdog sense kicks in when he sees people. Big baroos of barks follow. He has a crate in the living room, though being able to see the door and people coming may be a big stressor (and a night full of barking!). There’s a pen in the bedroom but being open topped the little Mister can jump out of it! 

The costumed kids and people most likely will be a bit much for him, especially in the dark. 

Perhaps we will observe a trunk or treat… though I feel Blue will bark at everyone regardless if its light or dark out.  So we may stay home and binge Halloween movies instead!

If you want to do a trunk or treat here are some local ones you can check out in the St. Cloud area (I’m not sure if any are dog friendly, call ahead to check!). 

  • Boo Blast at Lunds & Byerlys – Thursday October 27th at 4-7 pm
  • Minnesota Truck Headquarters – Friday October 28th at 4-7 pm
  • Miller Auto Plaza – drive through style – Friday October 28th at 4:30-6:30 pm 
  • Tri County Humane Society – dog friendly! – Friday October 28th at 5-6:30 pm
  • Prince of Peace Lutheran School – Friday October 28th at 5:30-7 pm
  • PumpkinMania at Hope Covenant Church – Friday October 28th at 5:30-7:30 pm
  • Holy Cross Lutheran Church – Saturday 29th at 5 pm
  • Redeemer Lutheran Church – Monday 31st at 5-6:30 pm
  • Life Assembly of God – Monday 31st at 6-8 pm 

No kids aside from those with fur and not going trick or treating? Spend some time in the kitchen and whip up some classic Halloween treats. Make some dog friendly cookies in classic Halloween shapes, craft some popcorn balls (share the popcorn with your pup) and break out a tub of water + apples and let your dog do the bobbing for them! 

Cider & doughnuts are Halloween classics as well – in fact in years past October was dubbed National Doughnut Month! (This shows up in the 30s with no modern notation.) Plus there are TWO national doughnut days – June 2nd & November 5th!

Classically cider & doughnuts aren’t dog friendly but if you do some Google digging you’ll find a few doughnut recipes that will make your dog drool – we found these: Easy Dog Donuts, Apple Peanut Butter “Dognuts”, or Banana Doughnuts.

Googling dog friendly cider will get you to places you can pop in for a cider with your dog! (Plus you might even find some Halloween events where your dog can flaunt their costume!)

How are you going to celebrate Halloween? Is your dog going to dress up?

We’re in a blog ring of dog and pet photographers around the world. Next up Toronto dog photographer Terri Jankelow of Terri J Photography shares how she handles Halloween photos without costumes.

The Lookdown Shot

There are many various angles that you can photograph a dog. 

Eye level, lower than eye level, lower than the ground, on a diagonal (don’t do this…) and from looking down on a pup – aka the lookdown shot. (Yes a lookdown shot literally means an image where you are looking down on your subject from above.) 

A lookdown angle pairs lovely with textures and patterns on the ground – leaves or cobblestones – or if your dog is tucked between your legs. 

What makes a lookdown shot special? This is the angle we see our dogs in 90% of the day at our feet, while they give us the biggest puppy eyes for a taste of whatever morsel we are noshing on. Essentially, this is how our dogs look to us in daily lives.

My thoughts on lookdown images? 

They aren’t my favorite angle to photograph a dog. Looking down at our dogs is… regular. We see them every day this way, and point our phones at them from our high above angle as the images in our phones can attest. While being eye level to our dogs is far from regular, unless we sit on the floor or they sit next to us on the couch (pending of course on the size of your dog). 

Here’s a comparison of a lookdown image and an eye level image of Blue. Both are adorable with the touch of fall behind him, though I prefer the look of the eye level angle (and that head tilt, come on!).

Which do you like better?

Below is another lookdown angle. By this point Blue was getting a little bored being a model and would have rather been munching on the stick in my hand – hence the ear positions. 

And on the topic of Blue, he’s now 16 weeks old! 

He’s gotten taller and longer, roughly 29 lbs (I haven’t weighed him recently) and is still whip smart. Biting is starting to get more controlled, though the morning and evenings tend to be wild cards. He poses well with a headntilt for popcorn, handsome, hungry and when I generally talk about things at time. 

The day we did the lookdown pictures we did 16 week pictures with Hickory the fox. 

EEEEEEEK! Look how much bigger he’s gotten from 10 weeks! You can really see how much height he’s gained. Plus he looks less like a smooshy puppy, though he’s got awesome smooshy jowls now. 

Man is he ever a handsome puppy!

And for fun – Blue’s 10 week pictures! My how he’s grown!

And even more fun… 7 weeks to 16 weeks!

Ok, enough about Blue! 

To recap: The lookdown angle is when you are literal capturing an image as you are looking down at your dog. It can be rather cute, though it doesn’t frequently capture my fancy – eye level angle is totally my jam though!

Another fall color update!

Whoosh! Those fall colors are in full swing! The early memo tree is pert near naked, while all the others are celebrating in their best colors. From Paynesville to St. Cloud the colors are yellows and oranges, with the streets of Richmond sporting some bold reds too!

I don’t see the color in the morning (6:30 am and its pretty darn dark out still) so it’s delightful to drive home and see the difference a day makes for fall colors. Tuesday evening the colors were rather charming. I may have to bring out Blue for some epic fall puppy pictures!

BAM! Here’s today’s color map:

The northern part of the state is in FULL COLOR with a couple of touches of past peak (typically brown or leaves have dropped). If you didn’t get out last weekend, make some plans for this weekend. The temps should be autumn-like in the 60s. Perfect weather for all types of pups to enjoy a hike or stroll in the fall colors. 

Really random that St. Cloud is in a low percent, typically that “island” of slow peak color occurs around Minneapolis & St. Paul. Gives Blue, I and the rest of St. Cloud a little extra time to enjoy the fall colors!


We’ve had a busy week and managed to pull off a garage sale yesterday – and hardly lost items to the grips of the breeze! Not a ton of sales, but there were plenty of things that found new homes and a bulk of items that got dropped off at Goodwill as it was their time to be set free. 

I’m wearing ample orange and Halloween stuff as it is October and I rather enjoy Halloween. Additionally I’ve been doing some slightly obsessive research into the history of Halloween via very old newspapers. 1800s it was a time of charms & attempts to conjure up … one’s lover. Indeed!

Halloween was a celebration of the harvest and a time when witches, goblins and the like strolled the streets while apples and nuts (esp chestnuts) were ways to foretell of a future lover to be. The charms started to transition out of favor in the 1880s, while parties tended to be the in thing (taffy pulling parties were really common!). Young boys were tricksters – unhinging gates, pulling doorbells, relocating everything that was movable while raiding gardens for cabbage to throw at doors. No mention of the classic trick or treating, though I’m only to 1888. 

Classic trick or treating could have been running the background as many of the old newspapers merely reference the history of Halloween or the trickery that had been performed about the city. More notions of parties in the papers started to show up around 1885 (the layouts of the newspapers started to change as well – many more advertisements started to occupy the space around articles.

Its really cool that these newspapers have been archived for anyone to look & read through. If you’d like to gander: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ you can search any term you’d like or just read about what happened 100 years ago!


Blue is continuing to grow & get smarter. He’s at least 24 lbs (per the last vet visit) and a whopping 14.5 weeks! He doesn’t settle well when he’s tired, but he naps like a pro in his crate. Biting is starting to lessen and it can be redirected quickly with me, though I think he still is a bit too heavy on the landshark role with Kris. 

Puppy classes are continuing to see Blue blossom! His main goal still is to eat all the treats tossed on the floor BEFORE he engages with any of the other puppies haha! He did start to engage in play with a few of the puppies, I think he does better in a 1 on 1 play session vs having the group pursue him. 


We’re embracing the lovely temps & colors of the fall and looking forward to Halloween! If you can, visit one of the parks in your area or take a day trip to soak in all the fall colors this weekend.