When taking any kind of photo, the most important piece of equipment (and the most obvious) is the camera. Digital cameras offer the ability to see the results immediately and allow you to take dozens, even hundreds, of photos without increasing the cost of your pet photo shoot.
You'll also want to consider the lighting for your photo. Lighting can be as simple as going outside, or it can involve multiple pieces of lighting equipment. With pet photos, it's best to avoid using a flash because this may startle the pet and produce the reflective red-eye effect [source: Pets in Pastel]. This is why it's easiest to take photos outside. Many photographers prefer the soft even light of an overcast day. Light on an overcast day hits subjects evenly and casts minimal shadows.
You can take great pet photos indoors with the help of a lighting setup. A basic setup might include a lamp with the shade removed, or multiple household or desk lamps. If you want a slightly more professional lighting kit, but don't have the money for one, florescent shop lights and clamp lights are available for under $10 each at hardware stores. A basic professional portrait lighting setup would include a key light, a fill light and a back light. The key light, or brightest light, should be placed in front of and slightly to one side of the subject, pointed directly at them. The fill light should be less bright than the key light and set to the front of the subject on the other side. Finally, set a back light behind the subject pointed towards the subject off to one side, usually on the side the key light is on. This gives your subject depth and separates him or her from the background [source: MediaCollege.com]. Such lights should generally come from above, creating the same shadows the sun would, in order to look natural.
Lastly, if your photo is going to be inside, you'll probably want a backdrop and place for your pet to sit or lie. For smaller dogs and cats, a few pillows is a perfect spot for your pet to pose, but bigger animals might need a couch or some other natural looking place to be photographed. A background can be as simple as a sheet or large piece of paper. The room you photograph your pet in might be a perfectly suitable background, but solid colors that don't clutter up the photo are usually best. Try lighter backgrounds for darker animals and darker background for lighter animals [source: DIY Network].