Pet Care Benefits. How to be “Pet-Friendly” Even if You Don’t Allow Pets On-Site

    Posted by TASC Large Markets on Mar 4, 2021 8:04:46 PM


    Today, more than two-thirds of American households have at least one pet.1 So there’s a good chance many of your company’s employees are pet owners. What’s more, you probably have more pet owners (or at least employees with more pets) than a year ago as a result of the pandemic, which has caused a spike in pet adoption. A July 2020 survey found that 20% of the participants had adopted at least one dog or cat during the previous three months alone.2 Taking stock of these facts, many companies are innovating their benefits package by offering financial and practical help with pet care.

    For several years now, the standard “pet-friendly” benefit was the option for employees to bring a companion dog or cat to work. Prior to the pandemic, many small companies and giants such as Google and Amazon offered that option and reaped its benefits. Research shows having dogs as “coworkers” can help reduce the stress level in the office. One study found that a companion dog in the office encouraged people to be more “cooperative, communicative, and friendly.”3 Bringing a dog to work can also help employees save money on dog walkers or “doggy daycare.” But, clearly, it’s not for every company. Many business environments are either inappropriate or unsafe for pets. Companies also have to take into account the potential concerns of employees who might find pets distracting or have allergies to them.

    Fortunately, thanks to the addition of newer pet-related benefits, it’s not necessary to allow pets onsite to be considered a pet-friendly workplace. One way companies are acknowledging the importance of employee pets is by offering pet insurance, which we discussed in a previous post. But there’s a lot more to owning a pet than visits to the veterinarian. Medical expenses comprise only about 60% of pet-related costs.4 Of the average $27,245 pet owners spend on their companion animals over a ten-year period, 40% is used for things like adoption, food, grooming, supplies, and lodging.5

    Those non-medical pet expenses can add up. For example, post-pandemic, some dog owners will want or need to hire workweek dog walkers, which charge an average of $20 for a single, 30-minute walk.6 Dog training, which is required by some apartment complexes, can cost $30 to $50 per class for group sessions and more than $100 an hour for private sessions.7 Boarding a pet while on a business trip or vacation can cost, on average, $30 to $50 a night.8

    Offering to pay all or a portion of some of these expenses can be a great way to attract pet-owning employees and boost the loyalty of those already on staff. So are benefits that address the emotional bond between pets and their human companions. Some companies have begun offering time off for employees with new pets. It’s often referred to as “pawternity” leave, which can range from a few days to a week or more. Similarly, companies are also offering bereavement time off when a pet passes away.

    Offering pet-related benefits, including reimbursement for pet-related expenses, can be easier than you might think. Since, like pet insurance, pet care reimbursement benefits are considered non-tax advantaged lifestyle reimbursement accounts, you have control over their design and administration. You decide which services or products you will reimburse, the percentage of that reimbursement, and account maximums. For example, you can offer partial reimbursement for animal daycare expenses at whatever level you wish, set the maximum for that benefit, and, have it apply only to certain workday hours. The company owns the account and reclaims any unused dollars at the end of the benefit period. Also, as with pet insurance, it’s easy to add one or more pet care benefits quickly if you employ a single-platform approach to benefit management like TASC Universal Benefit Account®.

    Don’t underestimate the importance of your employees’ relationship with their pets. A full 80% of Americans consider companion dogs and cats full-fledged members of their family.9 Ninety percent of the people who work in pet-friendly organizations say they feel connected to their company’s mission.10 Research also shows that supporting pet ownership among employee can have a positive effect on employee health and company healthcare costs. According to one study, the health benefits of pet ownership save the healthcare industry $11.7 billion a year.11


    It comes down to this: Americans love their pets. Benefits that show you acknowledge that bond can strengthen your bond with employees.


    Editor’s Note: TASC offers a Pet Care Reimbursement Account & a Pet Insurance Reimbursement Account from more than 50 benefit offerings that can be configured into custom plans that meet employee needs – where they are in life.



    1. ”How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?” Forbes, January 2021:
    2. “Dog days of the pandemic create a thriving economy for man’s best friend,” USA Today, September 2020:
    3. “The Rising Trend of Pets at Work,” Scientific American, May 2017:,involved%E2%80%94including%20our%20furry%20friends.
    4. “Pet Adoption Statistics,”, October 2020:
    5. “How Much Do Dog Walkers Charge?” HomeGuide, February 2021:
    6. “How Much Does It Cost To Train A Dog?” HomeGuide, February 2021:,%2C%20therapy%2C%20or%20protection%20purposes
    7. “Pet Adoption Statistics,”, October 2020:
    8. “Why companies are offering ‘furternity’ leave to new pet owners,” CNBC, August 2018:
    9. “Pet Perks: Employee Benefits That Help You and Your Pet,” Healthypaws, February 2017: