Dog sitting on the floor beside couch with sneaker laces in mouth

Snuggles, Physical Activity and Companionship: Pets offer Health Benefits While Working from Home

Decreased blood pressure, increased feelings of companionship and opportunities for exercise – all these benefits and more come with owning a pet.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the routine of having to meet your pet’s daily needs breeds responsibility and a feeling of accomplishment.

Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and more all have benefits for their owners. Studies have shown that just petting an animal triggers dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin in human beings, which reduce our stress levels and help us remain calm. The American Heart Association notes that health benefits of owning a pet include decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness. It doesn’t hurt that dog ownership leads to increased exercise and outdoor time, and any type of pet allows human beings to experience decreased feelings of loneliness and help them feel supported.

There are plenty of pet owners who can attest to the truth of these studies. With more time now spent at home, pet owners are finding the extra activity, and all those extra snuggles, are doing them some good.

The Pets We Didn’t Know We Needed

Peter Kates, of Erie County, didn’t want to adopt a Havanese puppy last year. “I didn’t think we needed a dog, but I can’t imagine him living with anyone else,” Peter said.

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Peter and his family adopted Henri as a type of a therapy pet for his daughter, Madeleine, who has some health issues, including frequent migraines.  One day, Henri made a beeline for Madeleine’s left ankle and began licking furiously. Less than 10 minutes later, Madeleine had one of her migraines. Now, whenever Henri does this, they know a migraine is coming on, Peter says.

Picture of a white guinea pig

Pearl Kates (photo courtesy of Peter Kates)

If this puppy love fills Peter’s home with warmth, his past and current guinea pigs – Nutmeg and Pearl – push it to overflowing. Nutmeg, lived to seven and a half years old – almost double the average life expectancy of the furry rodents. These insanely loyal and loving pets keep the Kates’ busy.  “They’re very social animals, like tribbles in Star Trek,” said Peter. “They interact with you, they have personalities, they have unique behaviors, and they’re just great pets.”

Balancing Daisy, Prince, Poppy and a Laptop

Liz Kiniorski, of Monroe County, says her photogenic Shih Tzu, Daisy Starlet Sparkle Fluffy-Pants is popular not only in her home but with the general public through her own Instagram page.

“She has more Instagram followers than me,” Liz said. “She’s just starting to build her brand.”

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Liz and Daisy do everything together, from going to community events to hiking on trails. Working from home with Daisy has had its ups and downs, though, Liz says.

“She loves that I’m home all day, but wants a lot of attention,” she said. “She will stare at me while I’m working and if I don’t give her attention right away, she will tap me gently with her paw until she gets the attention she wants… I’ve figured out a way to balance my laptop on the corner of my couch so when I am catching up on emails or reading reports, she can lay in my lap.”

And with no coworkers to socialize with, Daisy is now Liz’s go-to break buddy. “We go for a lot of walks each day,” Liz said. “She might be anxious for me to get back into the office!”

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Adding to the excitement is trying to work with two 6-month-old kittens, Liz said. She got Prince and Poppy-Pinkerbelle in October. “Last week I had to untangle Poppy from the curtains during a conference call,” she said. “Prince really wants to type on my laptop.”

How do your pets help you work from home?

Share your story in the comments below.

Erika Gruszewski

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