What are the benefits of bringing pets to work?

At Purina, we’ve noticed many benefits. For example, bringing a dog to work helps us get outside and take more walks, and bringing a cat gives us another excuse to play. Beyond that, employees find that bringing a pet to work helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance. On our end, Purina has found it is a nice perk for our staff, which helps with retention.

Studies have indicated that employees who bring pets to work show fewer signs of stress. That could be because pets help us relax and take time to meet new people.

Finally, we’ve noticed benefits for pets as well. They get to socialize with new people and play with other pets while enjoying more daily activity and more time with the owner they love.

Before You Start

How can we get building management on board?

If your company owns the building, it’s up to the leadership to decide whether they want to allow pets. If your company is leasing the space, you may have to meet with a management company, a leasing agent, a landlord – or all three. Before you meet with anyone, prepare a list of similar spaces or companies that allow pets at work so that they can see it isn’t an unusual practice and that it can make a space more fun to visit. Be prepared to talk about creating legal documents so that any risk involved isn’t solely on the property owner’s hands.

What legal documents might we need?

You’ll want to be sure to have your workplace’s lawyers draft a liability waiver for employees to sign when they decide to bring their pets to work. These waivers help participating employees understand any risks involved in bringing pets to work, and lets them agree to be held accountable for any legal situations that could arise. This will remove liability from the company. Here’s an example of ours. Please note that our example is only shown as a suggestion, and cannot serve as your company’s waiver. We suggest your company contact your legal representative to create a version that suits your company’s culture and needs.

How can we make sure our pets are good neighbors to other businesses in the building?

Start by making sure everyone has a clear understanding of the type of behavior that is expected from their pets – and what kind of behavior isn’t acceptable. Visit our etiquette guidelines to see how you can help employees understand what is expected.

What medical documentation should employees bring in for their pets?

For health reasons, it’s important to make sure that employees who bring pets to work submit documentation of their pets’ health status and medical checkups. For example, the documents should show that pets have proof of all required vaccinations, including the vaccination for rabies, and that dogs have been vaccinated for bordetellosis. You will also want employees to provide proof that kittens and puppies have had their annual booster shots. Have them store copies of required vaccinations in their work area.

Allergies and Shedding

Will bringing pets to work bother people’s pet allergies?

This shouldn’t be a big problem as long as employees take responsibility for their pets’ grooming and cleanup. If a pet is clean and his coat is cared for regularly, he’ll be less likely to trigger allergies. Being diligent about cleaning up pet hair or any other pet-related messes can also help reduce allergies. This extends beyond the employees to a workplace’s cleaning regimen, so make sure vacuuming happens regularly and that air filters are installed in the building to help keep air clean.

If there are still concerns about allergies, try enforcing limits to where pets can go. If they can’t be restrained in an office or in a contained area, designate pet-free zones. We suggest keeping pets out of conference rooms, collaboration spaces, restrooms, and dining spaces.

Are there any allergy prevention methods that apply specifically to cats or dogs?

A quick background on cat allergies:

Many Americans are allergic to cats. People often assume they’re allergic to cat hair, and thus believe that short-haired cats are more allergy-friendly. In reality, it’s more likely they are allergic to a protein in cats’ saliva, which gets on cats’ skin when they groom themselves. To help people with allergies avoid exposure to a cat in the workplace, employees should make sure their cat is well-groomed, and they should clean up any shedding that might occur. They should also keep their cat in a gated area if necessary.

A quick background on dog allergies:

Dogs produce dander, which some people may be allergic to. Some dogs barely shed, while others shed a lot. High-shedding dogs are more likely to trigger allergies. If an employee’s dog is causing sneezes, it might be a good idea to gate his area. If a dog is causing more severe allergies, the dog should not visit the workplace. The best way to prevent allergic reactions is to properly bathe and groom all dogs.

How can shedding be kept under control?

The first step in keeping shedding under control is asking owners to frequently groom their pets before they visit the workplace. The second step is making sure the office is vacuumed regularly and that there is an adequate cleanup of any dander left by pets.

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