The following is a guest post by pet photographer Victoria Rak of Tuff Photo.

How often do you glance down at your pet and think I must capture this cuteness? You run and grab your camera with the highest of hopes only to be let down by mediocre results and the task was frustrating.  You’ve chased them, pleaded for concentration, blurred the photos and let’s not forget about you producing the glowing eyes effect. Does this sound familiar?

 Here are some quick steps to help you to take better photos of your pet.   

  1. Patience!   The first 10 minutes or so are always a little challenging.  Your pet has no idea what you’re doing.  Staying calm allows them to feel more comfortable.   After they are calm you will find it much easier to focus and your pet will find it much easier to embrace you and your camera. 
  2. Rewards!  Always have rewards with you.  A favorite toy or treat can make a big difference.   The toy I hold in my hand is a diamond in disguise.  A joyful cylinder that rolls when chased or squeaks when chewed is a dog’s best friend!  A feathery toy that moves along the floor just waiting to be pounced on. The bacon flavored treat that makes any dog drool and cats purr captures their undivided attention like nothing else! 
  3. Flash! Or should I say No Flash!  That’s right no flash allowed.  I can’t stress this enough.   Moving outdoors or into a well lit room will make the difference between a big blur or a sharp photo.    Eyes are the windows to the soul.  When you leave your flash off you can see the eyes are no longer hidden by bright glowing circles or haze.
  4. Sit!  Yes I meant you sit down.  Getting low is so important.  Not sure how low to get?  Not to worry.  Stay eye level.  Get face to face with your subject.  Sitting, Kneeling, or lying on the floor is a good start.  You might be surprised at what you see at their level!
  5. Fun!   Have fun with it.  Take your time and enjoy your pet.  I know they will enjoy you spending time with them.

About Victoria

I have been photographing pets professionally for years. So I’d like to think I have the hang of it by now!  If you ask any of my professional colleagues they will say photographing a pet can be quite the challenge even for them. However I am told I have the ability to break down the process for inspiring novice. I have picked up quite a few tricks along the way and I would be happy share more with you. So if you have questions, want to see my work, photo outtakes, tips and more please visit my Blog at and/or become a fan on Facebook!

Always remember the secret to good pet photography is to make sure . . . pst . . . personality shines through!

By Play Admin on Jan 19, 2013 at 12:00 am 0 Comments

Making Sure Your Pets Have a Happy Holiday

Christmas is only a few days away, and between parties, family, traveling, decorations, sweets and gifts Christmas can be as stressful as it is special. To your pet, this time can be full of new sights and smells, confusion and new ways to get into trouble.

As you make your holiday plans this year, take a look from your four-legged family member's point of view. Keeping life safe and stress free for your pets during the holidays is simply applying the same common sense that you practice the rest of the year.


Take a look at all that you just bought or unboxed for another year: Christmas tree, ornaments, maybe candles, but definitely lots of wires and, unfortunately, the hazards they all may cause your pet.

  • That tree is plenty big and drying out every day, losing pine needles everywhere: Secure the base and the top of the tree to keep it from getting knocked over. Pine needles can be a digestion hazard if eaten, so take steps to keep the tree from drying out: make a straight cut to the trunk before placing it in water, keep it watered and use cooler LED lights.
  • Consider the ornaments: Remove the breakable and edible ones like fine glass or popcorn strands.
  • About tinsel: If you have pets, think twice about buying tinsel. For example, if you see a cat with partially swallowed tinsel, don't tug on it. The tightening of that string in your cat could knot in your cat's digestion system and cause peritonitis, an inflammation of the thin tissue lining the intestinal wall. Instead take your cat to the vet.
  • Wires, wires, everywhere, and not a toy to chew: With all those lights and other decorations, have you made sure you secured all the extra wires and power cords from your pets, so they don't chew on one and electrocute themselves?

Holiday Sweets

Chocolate, rich food, fatty food and holiday plants can be poisonous to your dog or cat, causing illness or even death. Coffee, alcohol and nicotine are also dangerous.

Keep food and drinks with these ingredients away from your pets, prevent easy access and put them in a sealable container instead of out on a tray. Also, clean up messes soon after that big party, before your pet has a chance to root through it.

Alleviating stress

In addition to your pet's physical health, consider his mental health, and take measures to alleviate extra stress that comes from a change to the routine.

Give your pet a quiet place to hide out like a back bedroom with his familiar pet bed, toy and food and water.

If you are going to have unfamiliar people and especially kids around your pet, take the time to talk about bite prevention with them and ensure that time together is supervised. You know if your pet doesn't like to be bothered while eating or if he doesn't want to be picked up, so be sure to share that knowledge.

Traveling and Guests

If you are taking the whole family, including Spike, to visit relatives or having relatives as extended guests, they may not be aware of common pet-proofing precautions. If you are a guest, look out for harmful chemicals like that antifreeze on the garage floor your pet can get into. If you have a guest, remind them to keep any medication away when not in use.

These are all examples of ways to avoid pitfalls that could occur if you don't take a minute to consider how holiday festivities may affect your pet. Before the big event make a list of how your pet will be affected and how you can help them, and every species of your family will be better prepared to enjoy the holidays.

At, Jay Acker's editorial group makes materials for conducting weekly safety meetings, safety training programs, posters and other items.

By Play Admin on Dec 15, 2012 at 12:00 am 0 Comments

By Jackie Roberts

Pet obesity is a problem that many owners have to deal with over the course of their dogs’ lives. Whether it's one too many treats between meals, extra food from the dinner table, or a breed that’s predisposed to weight gain, unhealthy eating habits can lead to a slew of health issues.

Much like people, overweight pets risk developing illnesses such as high blood pressure, kidney diseases, type two diabetes, breathing problems, and more. The extra weight on pets that develop arthritis can increase their pain and discomfort as they move around. While there are pet meds that can help reduce weight gain, many dog owners prefer to make changes to diet and exercise first.


Walking: An often-overlooked exercise, regularly scheduled walks can strengthen the heart, lower blood pressure, increase energy and bone density, which can all help fend of arthritis. Also known to help with common behavioral problems, walking can be a simple solution for complicated issues.

Swimming: Easier on the joints, swimming provides a workout for dogs and people with arthritis. Swimming provides a low-impact workout that increases endurance while strengthening the heart, the lungs and working various muscle groups. Not all breeds enjoy swimming, so you may have to start slow. If your dog resist after coaxing with toys, treats, and encouragements, find a different sport.

Dancing: If walking is a bit too slow paced for you, you can always add some music and dance the day away with you pooch. Teaching your dog tricks and turns not only means more quality time, but an aerobic workout for you both that burns calories, increases stamina and improves muscle tone.

Jogging/Running: Not every breed can handle fast paced long distance running, so some research is necessary. You should also wait until your dog is out of its puppy stage before you build up to longer distances and times. Be mindful of weather conditions like heat or humidity, and provide a five-minute warm up and cool down with every session. Consult your vet for all the ins and outs of jogging with your dog.  


The saying "you are what you eat" is as true for your pet as it is for you. With that in mind, modifying your dogs diet could make the difference between a full healthy life, and a shortened one. Be sure to consult your vet before making any major changes to your dogs diet.

Treats & Proportions: What your dog eats, from portion sizes to frequency, begins and ends with you. It’s normal to want to spoil your dog with extra treats and it may be hard to deny his puppy-dog faces when he begs from the table. But a lack of discipline on your part can cost your dog his good health.

While nixing treats altogether may not be realistic, you have the choice of what kinds of treats you buy for you pet. Healthy alternatives like vegetables or rice cakes will help keep the weight in check. Portion control during regular meals is also an effective way to help with weight loss. Vets recommend cutting the daily food intake by 15% to 20% for a six to eight week period, and then analyzing the results.

Diet Dog Food: Making the switch can be tricky. Pets can be every bit as picky as people, and a bit of trial and error may be needed to see what your dog will and won’t eat. Switching foods too drastically can upset the routine your dog relies on and do more harm than good. Start the process slowly, mixing more and more diet food in along with the regular, and monitor the results.

Going Organic: For the sake of good health, many pet owners turn to organic dog foods or even make their own. Again, a consultation with your vet will help you choose the best brand for your breed, but a good rule of thumb to follow is the fewer the ingredients, the healthier the food will be.

Ingredients: In order to choose the best food for your dog, look for a few key features. Ingredients—both for pet and human food—are listed in order of amount. This means the first ingredient on the list makes up the majority of the food, followed by the second ingredient, and so on. The main ingredient should be meat, but not any kind of meat by-product. Avoid foods that list corn or another grain as the main ingredient.

In the end, you are the guardian of your dog’s good health. A little research and restraint can go a long way towards giving you and your four-legged friend many good years together.

Jackie Roberts is a writer for 1-800-PetMeds, and loves to help and support the pet community. You can find Pet Meds on Twitter or connect with Pet Meds on Youtube.

By Play Admin on Oct 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm 2 Comments