PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing has pulled together her top tips and some things to consider before saying yes to involving your pet on your big day!

Wedding days are often filled with celebrations with the ones you love the most, so it’s understandable that for many people it simply wouldn’t feel right to celebrate their special day without their faithful furry companion.

Consider if your dog will be comfortable in a wedding environment

Weddings can be busy, noisy and overwhelming – especially for your pooch! If your pup isn’t used to big crowds, is uncomfortable with strangers, or doesn’t adapt well to new surroundings, it may be kinder to leave them at home.

Of course there are many dogs who thrive from attention and company who might enjoy the excitement at your wedding, but bear in mind that no doggy is guaranteed to behave perfectly on the big day. Be prepared that they may cause a distraction or disturbance, especially as crowds of people can bring out our dogs’ playful and vocal side!

Make sure that the venue is dog friendly

When viewing wedding venues with the plan to involve your pet, it’s always good to keep your pet’s needs in mind. Think about the following questions: Is there a safe space for my dog if they want to take a break? Is there an appropriate space for my dog to toilet? Are there dog poo bins handy? Will the temperature be comfortable for them? Is there shelter to get them out of the hot sun, rain or wind? Is there space to take them for a walk during the day? Are water bowls provided and will staff be happy to keep them topped up? Are dogs only allowed in certain rooms? If so, where will they be able to go? Are there likely to be other dogs around on the day?

When deciding on a venue, make sure there’s a quiet and private space to take your pooch if they begin to get stressed, over excited or just exhausted. Providing them with a quiet space or room where other guests can’t enter, will allow them space to relax.

Think about their role

From a ring bearer and ‘dog of honour’, to a simple wedding guest, there are many ways that you can include your pet. If you have a mischievous doggy, perhaps they’d be more comfortable joining once the ceremony has ended, such as during the photos. This will allow them to be included without any pressure to be calm and quiet during the vows.

Prepare them beforehand

Letting your dog become familiar with the wedding venue before your big day is really important. If you are having a rehearsal before the wedding, be sure to take your pet with you for a practice run. Letting them sniff out their new environment not only gives your four-legged friend some familiarity, but it can also give you an indication of how things might go on the day.

If your pet has a specific role, it can also be a good idea to do some reward based training in advance.

Find a designated doggy sitter

Keeping your four-legged friend out of mischief is a lot to think about when you’re getting swept up in the celebrations of the busy day! It can be helpful all round to have a designated pet-sitter – this could either be a professional dog-sitter, or a trusted guest.

Knowing someone is keeping an extra close eye on your pooch, giving them regular breaks, taking them to the toilet and feeding them, can take away the worry. If your pet becomes stressed or tired, your dog sitter can also get them settled back at home.

Be mindful about potentially harmful items

Delicious fruitcake, chocolate and alcohol are all likely to be part of the fun celebrations – but don’t forget that they are highly toxic for your pet. Before the wedding, ensure that your guests know not to feed the dog – no matter how convincing your gorgeous pup may be!

Even with the best planning, it’s likely that some food will be dropped during meal times. If you are planning to have your pet around while your guests are eating, it’s a good idea to keep them at a safe distance from the tables and think about taking some of their own treats, puzzles and toys to help keep them distracted.

Remember that there are also many plants that are poisonous to dogs, so be mindful about the type of decorations, confetti and flowers that you use – it’s always best to keep them out of reach from wagging tails and curious paws!

To find out more about PDSA, visit pdsa.org.uk