March 23 is National Puppy Day, an unofficial holiday created to raise awareness of the benefits of rescuing animals in need as well as the unconditional love that dogs, and all pets, bring to many people’s lives.
While pet owners can attest to the many benefits of having a furry companion, there have also been a number of recent studies supporting this claim. In fact, the CDC notes that having a pet can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and loneliness while helping people increase exercise levels and opportunities for socialization.
Because of these benefits, about 20 percent of companies already allow employees to bring their pets to work, and research shows that having a dog at work can positively impact your overall health and wellness.
A 2012 study from Virginia Commonwealth University found that having dogs in the workplace reduced stress among employees as well as having a positive impact on all employees. For example, researchers found that those who brought their dogs to work reported lower stress levels throughout the day than those without pets or those who left their pets at home. Further, having the dogs in the office improved employee interaction and communication as co-workers talked about their pets, and many employees who brought their dogs to work noted increased productivity on those days.
Researchers also noticed that employees both with and without dogs in the office increased their activity and exercise when pets were present. Not only did the pet owners take their dogs out for walk breaks throughout the day, but often other co-workers would ask to help take someone else’s dog out. Having the dogs in the office provided new opportunities to increase activity and exercise, improving employee health and overall workplace morale.
Many workplaces with pet-friendly policies note the many benefits of having dogs in the office, including exercise and mental breaks, lower stress levels, increased creativity and productivity, improved company culture and more.
How Health Advocate Can Help
If you are a Health Advocate member with access to EAP+Work/Life, contact your counselor to talk about ways to reduce workplace stress, including making more time for exercise. If you are a pet owner but your company does not have a pet-friendly policy, consider talking to one of our Work/Life specialists to help you find pet services in your area to help while you are at work.
Other Helpful Resources
To learn more, please visit any of the websites below for additional information about rescuing a dog and the benefits of pet ownership: