American Heart Association Brings Back Best Friend Fridays To Highlight How Pets Can Help During COVID-19

With millions of Americans working from home during the COVID-19 crisis, our pets are becoming more important to our health than ever. I know I can attest to that with my new puppy Clark!

The American Heart Association is bringing back its “Best Friend Fridays” initiative in June to encourage people to incorporate pets into their workday and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits that having a pet can bring.

Here are some to keep in mind…

Reducing work-related stress. Around two out of three employees say work stresses them out (duh!), while 40% say their job gets in the way of their health. Studies show that pets in the workplace may help reduce stress, increase productivity and improve employee satisfaction.

Increase productivity. When a dog joins a collaborative setting (even if that’s a virtual meeting) group members rank their teammates higher in terms of trust, team cohesion and camaraderie. Every time things get weird on a Zoom call, I show my dog and thinks seem to get better.

Help manage anxiety. Now more than ever before, a lot of us are feeling anxious or are struggling with mental health. Pets provide companionship and unconditional love. In my case… sometimes too much when I’m trying to take a shower and there’s a dog nose peeking in the curtain like a little creep. :\

Keeping us active. Dog owners are more likely to fit in the recommended physical activity than those who don’t have a dog. Pets are a great excuse to get outside, get some fresh air and get active. Studies also show that physical activity has many benefits for mental health.

Providing a sense of togetherness. I adopted Clark when all of this COVID craziness started to help me not feel lonely… and it has been great! When owners see, touch, hear or talk to their companion animals, it brings a sense of goodwill, joy, nurturing and happiness. At the same time, stress hormones are suppressed.

Danielle Tufano

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