You are on video conference discussing project timelines and resource allocation, when suddenly your team member’s kitten makes a quick appearance. Everyone on the call laughs, they take a breather. It is a light, playful moment. That’s a snippet of how pets can make our work-lives better. Is it recommended to have a pet for more such lighter moments?

There is much research that points to the fact that when employees bring their pets to work, especially dogs, “They report high perceived organizational support (the feeling that one’s employer cares about his or her personal and professional development).” Such employees also had reduced stress levels, because dogs are considered energizers. They bring joy! What does this mean for pets at home?

Historically, cats, dogs, and fish have served as emotional support or therapy animals across settings like hospitals, places of care for the differently-abled, assisted living, and solo dwelling. While most of our pets aren’t trained to be emotional support animals, that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective in providing such support.

  • Research investigating the role of pets in reducing stress or softening it, shows that pets are a source of social support, perhaps more effective than a spouse or close friends.
  • They have a positive impact on performance by improving the cardiovascular rhythm, reducing anxiety, and thus sharpening our focus to make complex tasks easier. We are just less hyper.
  • Pets also increase the production of oxytocin in us. This is the happy hormone or the hormone that makes us feel good, connected, and social, when we meet people (or animals) we like. Some pet owners compare this experience to being in love or being a parent! In short – better mood.

But what if you don’t want cats or dogs?

  • If you’ve noticed, many dental clinics, pediatric clinics, and even restaurants have big aquariums full of colorful, exotic fish. Besides the aesthetic value, watching fish swim is known to reduce pain, and even reduce the amount of pain medication you may need after a surgical procedure. In everyday life, fish have a calming, soothing effect on our minds and improve our alertness. Well-kept aquariums are known to pacify aggressive behavior like yelling or pacing as well. It pretty much has the same effect as listening to the sound of a stream or watching ocean waves.

What we’re advocating here is a way to improve the quality of your workday, as this pandemic induced WFH seems endless. Pets can just lighten the mood and give you something to chuckle about every now and then. If you are a pet owner, you know what we are talking about. But if you aren’t yet, and are worried if cats/ dogs are high maintenance or that you’ll have allergies, start with a small fishbowl and see how that works. Let’s get creative with managing our emotional well-being. What say?

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