It’s time to start planning your holiday cards and social media posts. If you need a fun family portrait and want to include your fur kids, we’ve found all the pet-friendly stores that will offer pet photos with Santa this year. Many options are even 100% free — because it’s their way to get you in their stores during the holiday shopping season.
Before we dig into the full list, you’ll want to make sure your pup is potty trained and comfortable around people. If your dog acts a bit shy in a group of strangers or aggressive around other dogs, it may be best to stay home and stage your own photoshoot in the backyard instead of taking pet pictures with Santa. Overall, just keep your pet’s temperament in mind when you plan your holiday photos with Santa. It’ll be less stressful for you and your pet. And bring along some dog treats (we’ve even got coupons for those).
If your cat or dog is ready for their close-up, get out their most festive holiday finery (and your own ugly sweater) and plan to cheese it up with Santa at any of the stores on this list — or maybe all of them! I’ve included some cheap pet costumes at the end that you can order ahead of time.
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Here are all the places to get pet photos with Santa in 2023:
1. Petco Santa photos are coming back this year on Dec. 2 from 1 – 3 p.m.
Surprisingly, they didn’t host a Petco Santa event at all in 2022, but we’re happy to see that Petco Santa photos are coming back for 2023!
According to their Oct. 2 press release, photos with Santa will happen on one day only — Saturday, Dec. 2 — at participating Petco locations. That’s a much shorter timeframe than in years past, so expect heavy crowds on that day.
The free event will be offered from 1 – 3 p.m.
TIP: If your pup needs a little fluffing before a visit on Santa’s lap, they’ll have a $28 Holiday Grooming add-on package available, with a festive bandana and sugar cookie spritz.
2. Bass Pro and Cabela’s Santa photos are happening now through Dec. 24.
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are owned by the same company, so they offer the exact same photo experience during the holidays. This year, the pet photos with Santa will be held Nov. 5 – Dec. 24, 2023. You can make a reservation online up to a week in advance.
Most Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s locations are pet friendly, so this means you can totally take pet photos with Santa, too. But, you’ll still need to call and verify pet photos with Santa are a thing at your location.
All participants will get a free 4×6 print, but additional copies are available for purchase:
- Digital Download – $15
- Christmas Card Package – $20
- (8) 4×6 greeting cards
- Jingle Bell Package – $25
- Digital download
- Two 6×8 prints
- Two 5×7 prints
- Two 4×6 prints
- Four wallet prints
TIP: Each family (up to eight humans) is allowed one free Bass Pro photo with Santa.
3. PetSmart Santa photos will be offered Dec. 16 – 17 from noon to 3 p.m.
Pet photos with Santa are completely free at PetSmart stores for one weekend in December during their Paws & Claus event. Find out if your store is participating on their website.
You can take the photos using your cell phone or via the camera in-store. If you opt for the in-store camera, they’ll email the photos to you for free.
Reservations aren’t required, but they’re suggested in order to secure your spot. If you’re a Treats member, you’ll earn 3x Treats rewards points on any purchases you make that day after you check in online.
PetSmart’s in-store pet policy allows for all “traditional” pets in their store — including cats, dogs, non-venomous reptiles, and even pot-bellied pigs.
Related: Before your visit, study our tips on how to save money at PetSmart.
4. The Humane Society often has pet photos by donation in December.
Help other pets in need when you get your pet photos with Santa at your local Humane Society location. To fundraise during the holidays, many Humane Society locations offer holiday festivals, pop-ups, and photo ops throughout the month of December.
Be sure to double-check with your local Humane Society to see if they are holding an event — and whether they limit the photos to just cats or dogs. You’ll also want to find out if they have capacity limits. For a small donation (we’ve seen them range from $5 – $20 for a photo), you can get a holiday keepsake and know you’re helping a good cause.
5. Look for pet photos with Santa at your local mall.
If you’re looking for a place that does free or cheap pet photos with Santa, make sure you check what’s happening at the mall near you. Many malls still do big events for holiday photos — and they include pets in the mix. Your mall’s Facebook page and Google are the best places to find updated information.
6. Some Woof Gang Bakery stores host photos with Santa Paws (for free or up to $10).
If you have a Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming near you — they have over 200 locations in 18 states — stop in for pet photos with Santa. Availability and pricing will vary by location, but you should find what’s offered on your local store’s website or Facebook page.
At my local store in Florida, for example, they’re hosting the free photos on Sunday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
In years past, we’ve seen their holiday pet photos with Santa range from free to $10, but prices may vary per location. At some locations, your pup may also pose with Santa Paws, their dog version of Santa.
7. Earthwise Pet locations may have photos with Santa.
Earthwise Pet is another chain of locally owned pet stores with over 200 locations. Since Earthwise is part of a franchise, the availability and offerings for holiday dog photos may vary by location.
We suggest looking at the Facebook page for the local Earthwise Pet store near you for dates and times. Many stores will offer free Santa (or Grinch) pet photo pop-ups for patrons, or they may ask for a small donation to local pet rescues in exchange for the photo. Families have also been given a free goodie bag with samples.
Pop-up events for photos at Earthwise may be limited to one or two weekends in December, so plan ahead.
Related: Our Ultimate Pet Savings Guide is packed with tips and tricks for how to save on everything for your pet.
Cheap Outfits for Pet Photos with Santa in 2023