Bringing pets to work makes employees happy, more productive

Employees who regularly bring their dogs or cats to work have lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and higher productivity, according to a new Pets at Work survey from Purina.

“Productivity and morale go up” at pet-friendly workplaces, said Purina chief veterinary officer Kurt Venator. Retention rates also go up as happy employees stay longer.

About 2,000 people work at Purina’s headquarters in St. Louis, and on any given day 100-200 pets come to work with them.

“That’s mostly dogs but some cats,” Dr. Venator said. Some accompany employees who work in offices. Others work in cubicles or in open-space work areas.

“We have a beautiful outdoor dog park with fountains. It all works swimmingly. I can’t say enough about it,” Dr. Venator said. 

Dogs need to be taken outside one to four times per day, he said, suggesting that’s actually a good physical and mental break for owners. 

Purina has permitted Pets at Work for nearly 20 years. “Purina employees went to management and asked for it. We truly believe with pets and people together, life is happier and healthier,” Dr. Venator said. 

Its website — — has tips for employers and employees. 

They include setting up “baby gates” or crates in cubicles or open work space areas. Dog toys should be brought in to keep them busy but not toys with squeakers. 

Purina’s first Pets at Work Report was released earlier this week to coincide with Pet Sitters International Take Your Dog to Work Day. The observation started in 1999 and is always the first Friday after Father’s Day.

In May, a professional research company polled 1,004 people for Purina. Here are some of the findings:

• More than half of the workers brought pets to work at least once a week. Twenty percent brought their dog to work every day, and 19 percent brought their cat daily.

• Employees said bringing pets to work was a bigger perk than free coffee or a place to park.

“Both small and tech-focused companies have been found to be the most pet-friendly,” the survey found. “Pet-friendly workplaces trend slightly younger with two-thirds of employees under the age of 45.”

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-3064.