Frequently asked questions
What are the benefits of bringing pets to work?
What are the benefits of bringing pets to work?
We’ve noticed the difference having pets at work has had for us at PURINA® - not least the extra exercise we get by taking the office dog for a stroll! Generally our staff have found that having pets at work helps maintain a healthy work/life balance. And that’s good news for PURINA®, because it helps keep staff happy and loyal.
Studies have indicated that employees who bring pets to work show fewer signs of stress – which could be because pets help us relax and take time to meet new people. We’ve also noticed that pets benefit just as well. They get to meet new people and play with other pets, while enjoying more daily activity and spending more time with their owners.
How can we get building management on board?
If your company owns the building, it’s up to the people at the top to decide whether to allow pets or not. 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 need your company lawyers to draft a document for employees to sign when they decide to bring their pets to work. This helps them understand the risks involved, and lets them agree to be held accountable for any legal situations that could arise, removing any liability from the company. You can see an example of ours here.
Please note, our example is only a suggestion, and should not serve as your company’s waiver. We suggest your company contacts their legal representatives to create a bespoke version.
How can we make sure our pets are good neighbours to other businesses in the building?
Start by making sure everyone has a clear understanding of the type of behaviour expected from their pets – and what isn’t. Visit our guidelines section 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 check-ups. For example, the documents should show that pets have proof of all required vaccinations, including the vaccination for rabies. 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.
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 clean up. If a pet is clean and has its coat cared for regularly, it’ll be less likely to trigger allergies. Being diligent about cleaning up pet hair (or any other pet-related messes) can also help to reduce allergies. This extends beyond staff to include your company’s cleaning regime. So make sure the workplace is vacuumed regularly and air filters are installed to help keep the air clean.
If there are still concerns about allergies, try to enforce limits to where pets can go. If they can’t be kept in an office or in a contained area, set up pet-free zones. We suggest you keep pets out of meeting rooms, toilets, and dining areas.
We recommend neutering your kitten before they reach sexual maturity and are able to have kittens themselves. This is normally around the age of four to six months old. You will be able to tell when your cat approaches puberty, as female cats will call loudly, and male cats are likely to spray urine to mark their territory.
Some rescue centres and vet practices recommend early cat neutering from 12 weeks of age, or sometimes even earlier.
To protect your cat from having or causing unwanted pregnancy, keep them inside until they have been neutered.
A quick background on cat allergies
Cat allergies aren’t altogether uncommon. Often those affected assume it’s caused by cat hair, and conclude that shorthaired cats are more allergy-friendly. However, it’s more likely they are allergic to a protein in cats’ saliva, which gets onto their skin when they wash themselves.
To help sensitive workmates avoid allergy flare-ups, owners should make sure their cat is well groomed. They should also clean up any shedding of fur that might happen, and 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. High-shedding dogs are more likely to trigger allergies. If an employee’s dog is causing sneezes, it might be a good idea to keep it in a more closed-off area. If a dog is causing more severe allergies, the dog should not be allowed in the workplace. The best way to minimise 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 to ask owners to groom their pets regularly before bringing them into work. The second step is to make sure the office is vacuumed regularly.
What do we do if pets relieve themselves where they shouldn’t?
First off, make sure it’s clear that all pets coming into the workplace must be housetrained. Owners should know their pet’s toilet routines, and they should only bring their pet in when their work schedule allows them time to give their pet a toilet break.
This said, accidents can happen. When they do, the pet’s owner should clean it up immediately, and report the accident to the cleaning services so everything can be properly disinfected.
Can people other than pet owners let dogs out for bathroom breaks if necessary?
Yes, although anyone who lets someone else’s dog out should ask for permission first. Make sure the owner provides them with the dog’s lead to keep the dog restrained. The owner can also advise what type of behaviour shows that the dog needs to go out.
It’s important to allow small breaks so that pet owners and staff can let dogs out when they need to.
What happens if a pet runs away?
If there’s any worry that a pet could run away if the door opens, that pet should be kept on a lead or in a secure area. If a pet does run away, it’s important to report this to Human Resources, security or building management so people can help locate the pet as soon as possible.
We recommend using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word (and a picture of the pet) to ask anyone in the area for assistance. All pet owners should make sure their pet has a collar and ID tag on at all times, so that they can be easily identified and returned if they do get lost.
How can I make sure my pet will be OK if there is an emergency?
In case of an emergency, make sure you have the following to hand:
- Phone numbers and address of your vet and an after-hours emergency clinic, including directions.
- First-aid supplies, including bandages, gauze and hydrogen peroxide.
- Phone number of the poison treatment hotline in your area.
- A list of any medicine your pet is taking.
Next, familiarise your pet with the evacuation route to make sure it’s comfortable with stairwells and confined spaces. Lastly, notify the fire warden on your floor when your pet is at work, in case you’re away from your desk in an emergency.
What supplies should be available for pets?
Water, food bowls, treats and clean-up bags are a must for any office with pets. You can also include a pet bed, chew toys, plastic bags with ties, an extra lead, disinfectant wipes, first aid supplies, a list with emergency contact numbers for the veterinarian, and after-hour emergency clinic contact information.
What types of treats are healthy to keep around for pets?
Pets shouldn’t get more than 10% of their daily calories from treats or they may lose out on nutrients and, more likely, gain weight. Owners should let their workmates know about any special dietary restrictions their pet has.
It’s also important for pet owners to ask employees not to feed their pets scraps of human food. Doing so can teach pets to beg for food, which isn’t good for them or the people trying to enjoy their meals!
What types of toys should pets play with at work?
Balls are perfect toys for dogs in any setting – except the workplace. Any toy that makes them to run around and get riled up should be kept at home. Instead, choose toys that keep dogs busy and quiet, like puzzle feeders and chewy toys.
For cats, puzzle feeders and feather toys are good options. Avoid letting people get your cat running around, chasing a laser pointer. It can feel fruitless and frustrating for a cat when they fail to catch that elusive red dot!
Which areas at work should be pet-free zones?
We recommend you designate fitness centres, day cares areas, meeting zones, kitchens, canteens, data centres, medical departments, mothers’ lounges, and restrooms pet-free. Staff can also use leads and child gates to keep pets confined to smaller areas.
What kind of outdoor space is best for a pet friendly workplace?
Parks, dog parks, and large outdoor spaces are perfect for getting out of the office into the fresh air and giving a dog some exercise. Staff can also take dogs on walks around the neighbourhood to burn energy.
How can we make sure a dog doesn’t bark too much?
Make sure everyone understands that loud, fearful or disruptive dogs should be at home during the day. If a pet dog does bark at anyone, the owner should help that person become acquainted with the dog so they aren’t frightened of it, or left feeling they have upset it. Letting someone give the dog a treat helps in these situations.
Will cats and dogs fight one another?
We suggest keeping dogs and cats on leads or in gated areas. This lets them stay in their own space without roaming and playing too aggressively with one another. Any pets that are prone to ‘pick’ on other pets should stay home. If their owners want to bring them to work, they can opt for behaviour training first.
If a fight does break out, the owners of any pets involved should immediately separate the pets and take them to a neutral space to check for any injuries and calm them down. The pets involved should be kept apart until they learn better behaviour. If two pets in particular don’t get along, their owners can coordinate with each other to bring them in on different days.
What happens if a pet makes someone feel afraid?
A crucial part of pet ownership is teaching your dog or cat good behaviour. Employees who bring pets to work should realise that people could be frightened of unfamiliar dogs and cats. It's important to be respectful of these feelings. If a pet makes people feel afraid, the pet shouldn’t be brought to work.
How can staff make sure pets behave around children in the workplace?
Any employee who brings a pet to work should know the pet’s personality and be mindful when children are present. If a pet could intimidate or frighten a child, the owner should strictly avoid any incidents - even if it means not allowing the child to see the pet.
How can a pet owner make sure children behave well toward pets?
When a child greets a pet, the pet's owner should help the child understand what kind of behaviour will make the pet feel most comfortable. If the child is overly aggressive with the pet, help them understand how the pet is feeling and how to approach the pet more respectfully. It can also help to provide children with a small, healthy treat to feed a pet so the child and pet can meet under friendly circumstances.
How can a workplace make sure everyone’s on board with having pets?
Create an environment where people can easily express their point of view and feel that their voices are being heard. That way everyone can work together to create solid guidelines around pets in the workplace. This will help establish a precedent that makes it simple and routine to deal with any problems that may arise.
What’s the best way to get a pet ready to come to work?
If you want to make sure your pet behaves in the workplace, first consider its behaviour. Is it well trained, friendly, and calm? If not, you need to train it. Then you need to make sure your pet is well groomed, so that dander or allergens are less likely to trigger allergies.
On the day you bring your pet to work, make sure it’s comfortable and safe in the car on the way in, so it won’t be afraid. Consider introducing your cat to your workplace over the weekend, to let it explore its new surroundings with fewer distractions.
How can the trip to work be made more comfortable for a cat?
Car rides can be difficult for cats. You may need to take these three steps before she can complete a whole day at work.
1. Get her used to travelling in a crate or travel carrier by putting a treat inside and carrying it around the house.
2. Take a number of car rides before bringing her to work to get her used to travelling.
3. Bring her into the workplace just for short periods of time.
Once she starts to feel comfortable, you can try a whole day. If your cat objects to these steps, she might prefer to stay home and snooze while you work.
When you do bring your cat to work, make sure you bring a litter box, as well as familiar objects (like toys and a blanket) with her scent on them. These objects can help put her at ease.
How can the car ride to work be made more comfortable for a dog?
While dogs often enjoy car rides, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind. Make sure your dog doesn’t sit in the front seat – keep him in the back, ideally in a crate made for travelling or attached to the seat with a dog seat belt. (These are available at most pet supply stores).
Make sure your dog doesn’t put his head out of the car window, as this can be dangerous. In case your dog escapes on the way to work, make sure he’s wearing a collar and ID tag and is micro chipped.