(BPT) - As millions of U.S. employees anticipate a potential return to in-person work, some concerns are cropping up for pet parents and their furry family members. Many pet parents - including the over 2 million who have adopted dogs and cats from shelters just over the past year - are now considering how these changes may impact themselves and their pets, and how to cope with this possible transition.
A recent MetLife Pet Insurance survey shows that an overwhelming 95% of working pet parents anticipate that the transition will cause a change in their pet's health or routine, and 3 in 4 (74%) pet parents are concerned about how caring for their pet during this time may hurt their wallets. Working pet parents are also anticipating how their return to in-person work will impact their pets, including disrupting daily routines (26%), making them anxious or stressed (24%), causing them to act out (24%), and disrupting their eating routines (23%).
If you are one of the many working pet parents stressed about not being home as much to care for your beloved pets, here are three ways you can prep for the return to office - and make your pet's days without you a little easier to cope with.
Start prepping your pet for a new routine
As working pet parents prepare pets for their extended absence from home each day - some of them for the first time ever - over a quarter (26%) are concerned that the return to in-person work will disrupt their pet's daily routine. To help pets adjust, you should start establishing this new routine well before heading back into the office.
This can include getting your pet acquainted to new feeding, exercise and bathroom routines that better fit your work schedule. You can also start pet-proofing your home to prevent accidental injuries or damages to your home while you're away - for example, investing in a crate, gate or pen can help keep your pet safe, while a pet motion detector or camera can help keep you apprised of any issues.
Find alternative options for pet care
If you feel that your time away from home may be jarring for your pet, you may want to also consider hiring a pet sitter, dog walker or trying a daycare option. In fact, MetLife Pet Insurance's study has found that 38% of pet parents plan to invest in some kind of caretaker for their pet during this time. Of course, hiring additional care for your pet can sometimes be costly, so make sure that these options fit within your budget. If not, you can think about making accommodations with your employer (i.e., flex hours or remote work options) that may allow you to better care for your furry friend.
Talk to your employer about benefits
Paying for potential vet bills and other pet care costs associated with the return-to-office may be yet one more worry in the back of your mind. Because this change could result in unexpected hazards or an illness that may lead to a visit to the vet, it's worth asking your employer if they offer pet-related benefits.
For example, MetLife's pet insurance offering can help you cover unplanned vet expenses for covered accidents and illnesses. When a covered accident or illness occurs, you can submit a claim for reimbursement of the vet bill. In addition to insurance offerings, you can also check with your employer about other pet-related benefits, which may include stipends or reimbursements for expenses (e.g., toys, snacks, and grooming) or adoption fees.
These are just a few examples of how you can help support your furry family member and alleviate some of the stress and worry you may be feeling about this transition. To learn more about how to navigate a potential return-to-office, check out MetLife's return-to-office guide for pet parents.
 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company ('IAIC'), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company ('MetGen'), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen's policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.