Pets in Petals

Flowers are more than just for humans; our furry, feathered friends deserve blooms, too!
By Kat Castagnoli, AIFD, CFD, CCF

It’s not all that unusual to see a beloved pooch adorned with a floral collar for a wedding—or just for fun. But how about a chicken or a rabbit? Or an alpaca? From horses to llamas and pretty much everything in between, dressing up animals with flower crowns, collars, leashes and saddles has become one of the hottest trends around—particularly on Instagram.
“I love making flower collars for animals because they are so cute, and they make people laugh because they’re a little ridiculous!” says Megan Pearl Waltman, of Pearls & Petals in Gordonville, Pa.

Last spring, when Waltman’s friend and adventure wedding photographer Rebekah Viola, in Lancaster, Pa., got some chickens for her yard, it immediately sparked an idea. “We both thought it would be super fun to do a shoot with a chicken wearing flowers,” Waltman shares.

Using colorful summer flowers, Waltman selected a variety of small buds so that she could incorporate lots of colors and textures without bothering the chicken—much. Viola modeled with the tamest from her henhouse, Ginger, and took the photos with an automatic timer.

Waltman informs that she often uses ribbon or wire as a base for her animal-friendly designs because

“It’s very helpful structurally as the animal moves around and also makes the design adjustable, to fit the animal safely.”

Another photographer friend of Waltman, Loren Robinette, lives on a small farm in York County, Pa., and offers mini photo sessions each season with one or more of her farm animals. “What started out as making flower crowns for little girls snowballed into matching flowers for animals and then even the backdrops,” Waltman reports.

Last summer, Waltman and Robinette did mini sessions with Ana (a lamb) right as local peonies were blooming. During the winter holidays, they adorned a calf with winter greens and spray roses.

Alternative flower delivery services for Mother’s Day

“Most recently, we did a mini photo session with Darla, a rabbit,” Waltman notes, adding that she used hot glue to attach a variety of greens to a length of paper-covered wire, which could be adjusted to fit around Darla’s neck. “Adding the fresh carrots to the garland in the background seemed like an obvious choice for springtime with a rabbit—not to mention that Darla also enjoyed them as a snack!”

Jappalin Manning, owner of FlowerTalk Florist in Banjup (Perth), Western Australia, has designed flowers for her share of the animal kingdom as well, including alpacas, goats, horses and rabbits. But it was her dog photoshoot with wedding photographer Natalija Brunovs, owner of We Are All Stardust in Fremantle, Western Australia, that truly stands out.

“When I first approached Natalija a few years ago about doing a photoshoot with dogs and flowers, she said ‘Yes’ instantly!” Manning informs. “The next thing I knew, she had put out a call in her social media for all breeds of dogs to apply.”

“I am a dog person, and so many of my wedding clients are, too,” adds Brunovs. “So, it was no question for me to jump at this chance to include my clients and social media following in this fun pets-at-weddings-inspired shoot. We have all seen plenty of women in flower crowns, but what about the ‘best dog’ or the ‘dog ring-bearer’?”

Manning reports that there were so many owners and their dogs who wished to take part that the pair ended up with 16 ‘model’ dogs of various breeds, and they scheduled them at half hour intervals on the day of the shoot. “I was so thrilled at the number of applications and found it funny having to then judge the dogs’ suitability for modeling,” Brunovs recalls. 

“The shoot was particularly challenging because of needing the dogs to stay still whilst having themselves decorated as well. But we got there!”

Manning says each dog’s flowers were chosen and designed to suit the dog and its personality. She made frames out or aluminum wire or paper- covered wire, depending on the size of the dog’s head or neck, and she either wired or glued the flowers into the designs, depending on the weight and size of each flower.

“As we all know, dogs will not do as they are told, including sitting still for a photograph!” Manning remarks. “But Natalija had lots of treats for the dogs along with much praise and patience. She is quite the ‘dog whisperer,’ and she connected well with them!”

All in all, both Manning and Brunovs say the overall result was a ‘barking’ success. “This shoot was a hit on my social media, and people still talk about it, which fills me with such joy,” Brunovs concludes.

The Best Flowers to Use (and NOT Use) for Pets

When creating floral pieces for dogs, cats or other pets, it’s important to consider which plants and flowers are safe to use and won’t harm the furry or feathered friends. Below are some pet-friendly options, as well as those that you should take care to avoid.

Top TOXIC Flowers and Plants for Pets

Aloe vera

Amaryllis and Hippeastrum

Azalea and Rhododendron



Cycas/Caryota (sago palm)

Dianthus (carnation)



Euphorbia (poinsettia)

Gypsophila (baby’s breath)
(toxic to dogs but safe for cats)

Hedera (ivy)


Lilium (lilies)
(toxic to cats but safe for dogs)

Narcissus (daffodils)

Nerium (oleander)


Strelitzia (birds-of-paradise)

Tulipa (tulips)


Top PET-FRIENDLY Flowers and Plants


Antirrhinum (snapdragons)

Argyranthemum and Leucanthemum (daisies)

Aster and Callistephus (asters)


Chlorophytum (spider plant)

Ferns (all genera and species)

Gypsophila (baby’s breath)

(toxic to dogs but safe for cats)

Helianthus (sunflowers)

Lilium (lilies)

(toxic to cats but safe for dogs)

Orchids (all genera)


Rosa (roses)

Tagetes (marigolds)

Viola (pansies and violets)


For a full list toxic and nontoxic flowers and plants for cats, dogs and even horses, check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and- non-toxic-plants.
Source: Teleflora.com


Floral design: Megan Pearl Waltman Photography: Rebekah Viola

Model (chicken): Ginger Model (person): Rebekah Viola

Floral design: Megan Pearl Waltman Photography: Loren Robinette

Model (lamb): Ana

Floral design: Jappalin Manning

Photography: Natalija Brunovs

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