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New Research Reveals Kiwis Are Happier Employees With Pets Around

New research[1] shows a whopping 96% of pet owners in New Zealand felt that having their pet around while working from home in 2021 improved their mental health and work/life balance. However, many are anxious about their pet as they return to work this year.

The Purina Pets at Work research also found that 95% of respondents said pets made them a happier employee, with 71% saying it helped reduce their stress levels. It also helped support employee routines while working from home, with 48% of respondents stating pets gave them a reason to get outside more, with 44% being reminded to take more breaks.

More than half (60%) of respondents ranked spending more time with their pet as a top three benefit of working from home last year, with 81% saying it was a major perk.

According to the research though, most (80%) won’t always be taking their pet with them when they return to the office. More than half (65%) of these respondents say they feel some sort of anxiety about being away from their pets. Furthermore, almost three quarters (70%) are concerned that their pet will exhibit signs of separation anxiety when they return to work.

Purina New Zealand General Manager, Reuben Inglis says it doesn’t have to be this way.

“It is well documented that having dogs and cats in our lives is not only good for our mental and physical health, but also for our pets too! Our hope for 2022 is that more New Zealand offices consider becoming pet friendly.

“Our ‘Pets at Work’, movement is designed to encourage and support organisations to make their work environments pet friendly. It doesn’t need to be daunting.

Purina provides information for both employers and employees to help them make the transition to having pets in the office as easy as possible. This includes top tips from Purina Vet Expert, Dr Zara Boland for those looking to bring pets to work, and advice for caring for those whose pets will be left at home.

Over the past 20 years, Purina New Zealand’s Pets at Work initiative has helped businesses around the country welcome pets into their workplaces. Information on Pets at Work can be provided via our team of pet lovers, vet nurses and behavioural and nutritional specialists via 0800 PET VIP (0800 738 847) or


Top tips from Purina Vet Expert, Dr Zara Boland

Dr Zara’s five top tips to creating a pet-friendly workspace:

  • Talk to all stakeholders - Get management and staff on board and engage them up front so you have full support of the programme from the top down. Talk to your co-workers to encourage advocates to support you
  • Establish guidelines - What sort of pets can come to work, where and how you will create pet-free spaces (e.g., kitchens) as well as pet-friendly spaces. General rules for cleaning up social etiquette including toilet-training are vital. It is also very important to respect others’ comfort around pets. Check if any co-workers have allergies, but with the appropriate measures in place this shouldn’t be an impediment
  • Do the right paperwork - Purina has a helpful “Guidelines for Responsible Pets in the Workplace” document that may be useful – it sets out agreements for owners and tackles key topics such as pet health as well as general safety, responsibility, and hygiene
  • Find or make spaces for pets - This could include areas to cordoned off, where water bowls will be kept and any ‘off limits’ areas. Signposting is also critical for visitors to know which areas are pet-free and which are pet-friendly
  • Do your research or ask for help - Purina Pets at Work team has 20 years of experience in supporting workplaces with pets, so they can answer any questions and offer support and guidelines from their team of experts.

Dr Zara’s top tips to leaving your pet at home as you transition back to the office:

  • Create a Routine – Leaving and returning at the same time every day helps pets adjust to changes and reduce separation anxiety. Incorporating specific playtimes and one-on-one calm times with your pet will also reduce their stress during unpredictable times
  • Encourage Separation at Home - It is important for your pet to learn that it is okay to be alone sometimes. So, it is good to practice these by creating artificial separation even when you are home. For some pets, a closed door can send this message, while others may need to be reintroduced to their crates or encouraged to spend time in a calm, quiet part of the house for part of the day.
  • Provide Background Noise - Playing music, leaving the TV on, and even turning on an audiobook or podcast can provide them with some engagement and distraction.
  • Try Stimulating Pet Puzzles & Games - Puzzle feeders are a great way to reduce anxiety and keep your pet mentally stimulated. Pour half of their recommended daily amount of food into the puzzle feeder each morning and then refill each evening. Your pet will spend the day busy and engaged, which can ease feelings of anxiety.
  • Remain Calm & Confident - Keep in mind that our pets are great at reading our emotions and feed off our energy and body language. So, it is important to stay calm and confident around goodbyes with your pet. If you must leave suddenly and don’t have time for a walk or to create a game for them to play while you’re away, give them a treat as you walk out the door to develop a positive association with you leaving.

For more tips contact 0800 PET VIP (0800 738 847) or visit

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