(USATODAY.com) - Dog owners at many businesses won't have to leave their furry friends at home Friday, when "Take Your Dog to Work Day" marks its 16th anniversary.
Pet Sitters International (PSI) started the event in 1999 to "celebrate the great companions dogs make and encourage their adoptions."
Fewer than 300 companies participated in the inaugural event, but involvement has grown each year and more than 300,000 visitors explored the event's website, www.takeyourdog.com, this year, said PSI spokeswoman Beth Stultz.
YOUR TAKE: Show us your furry friends at work!
Companies including Procter & Gamble, Amazon and Google are among a few of the big names to welcome pets into the office not just once a year, but every day.
"Having pets in the office boosts morale," said Julie Franklin, P&G Communications specialist. "It's a definite stress-reliever. It makes our employees healthier and calmer, which means they're much more productive."
A report released by Wellness Natural Pet Food last week shows that bringing your four-legged friend to the office — cats, too — can actually make you healthier and happier.
The report found that 62% of dog and cat owners say they get more exercise because of their pets, and 81% say pets alleviate their stress. Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health also suggest that having a dog can improve cardiovascular health and increase physical activity.
Although only 12% of dog owners can bring their dogs to the office on a regular workday, 48% say they would if they could, according to the Wellness report.
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Dr. Al Townshend, staff veterinarian at Wellness Natural Pet Food, said that being able to bring your pet to work benefits both pet and owner.
"It's an enhancement of the total benefit that pets bring to our lives," said Townshend.
Elizabeth Bellanti, who works with marketing and social media at Tito's Handmade Vodka and helped start the dog-culture there 11 years ago, said that having her dog by her desk is "a huge comfort."
"It's in our DNA — we're meant to be together," said Bellanti.
Townshend emphasized that preparation is necessary to make a pet-filled workplace productive and recommended that dog owners come with a leash, treats and bowls for food and water.
Pet-friendly accommodations don't hurt, either.
Amazon spokesman Ty Rogers said the company treats its employees' dogs — from a "Siberian husky to a tiny Chihuahua" — to dog biscuits, dog-friendly water fountains and parks near its headquarters in Seattle.
P&G's Iams and Eukanuba pet-food divisions even provide free dog food and have dogs in management — a Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen named Griffin currently serves as the VP of Canine Communications.
"Griffin has to drive around an hour to get here, but he comes in two or three times a week. He just loves it," Franklin said. "He's so cute."
Companies hoping to attract younger applicants should pay attention to one finding in particular: Respondents ages 18-34 are especially attached to their pooches, with 61% of respondents to the Wellness survey saying they would be interested in bringing their pets to work. Time to start investing in that doggy fountain.