CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Mental health experts say bringing your dog to work may help to ease stress and increase overall productivity in the workplace.

In fact, several employers in Charlottesville and Albemarle County already allow pets to join their owners for a rough day's work.

Attorney Lila Higgins-Fleishman said, “He really likes to make friends with everybody in the office when we have people coming in.”

Higgins-Fleishman and her dog Cecil, spend their days helping clients.

“He helps my clients a lot and that helps me ‘cause it kind of de-stress situations when folks are in a law office chances are they're not in the calmest state of mind,” said Higgins-Fleishman. 

Mental health experts with the Women's Initiative said bringing your dog to work can help you de-stress.

Elizabeth Irvin, a therapist at the Women's Initiative said, “What we know from research is that as you're petting an animal there's an oxytocin releasing in your brain and that's a benefit to your mental health it calms you down.”

Other employers, including Albemarle County, are seeing the benefits of bringing your pet to work.

Megan Nedostup, who works for Albemarle County noted, “If I have stress, it's great to have him here so I can pet him. It also really gets me out at my lunch hour, to get away from my desk.”

However, experts do have a word of warning for bringing your pet to the workplace.

“The first thing you need to think about is whether there are people who are going to come into your work environment that are scared of dogs or allergic to dogs,” said Irvin. “For the worker themselves, you need to be willing to not pet your dog all the time and stay at work and stay focused.”

Higgins-Fleishman and her dog Cecil have faced this situation together.

“There are sometimes when somebody he really likes has come in and he's like ‘mom, mom I want to go play’ and I’m like ‘I am on the phone’,” stated Higgins-Fleishman. “It’s just a really good thing to be able to have him here and have him be able to do what he's doing right now, which is just give you a little bit of a laugh in the middle of the day.”

If your office allows pets, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Experts say you need to communicate with co-workers to make sure they are comfortable with the situation.