There’s no doubt that pets offer therapeutic benefits to their owners and the other people lucky enough to spend time with them. While going through something as stressful as treatment for cancer or other conditions that impact the immune system, it’s no surprise that you’d want to take full advantage of the emotional support an animal can bring. However, with the elevated risk of infection that comes with these conditions and their treatments, it’s important you keep yourself safe around your pets and other animals.
In the context of cancer or other conditions that compromise the immune system, safely interacting with pets is largely dependent on avoiding infection.
Some tasks are inevitable when it comes to having pets, like cleaning litter boxes or cages, or taking your dog for a walk. If you live with others who can take over some of these chores, talk to them about doing so to help you avoid feces and urine, which can spread a range of illnesses. If you’re your pet’s only caretaker, wear disposable gloves whenever you’re taking care of these tasks and wash your hands thoroughly when you’ve finished. Be sure that litter boxes are kept away from anywhere where you’ll prepare food or administer home treatment options.
While kisses from your pet can seem like a sweet show of affection, their saliva can transmit infection, too. If your pet licks an open wound or your mouth, wash the area as soon as possible. Similarly, be sure to wash your hands after touching your pet, whether that’s to pet them or put on a harness for a walk. Limit snuggle sessions and other instances of close contact as much as you can. As disappointing as it might be to turn away your pet when they want to cuddle, it’s even more important that you stay as healthy as possible—and are able to care for them throughout their entire life.
If you don’t know how to ensure you’re being as safe as possible around your pet, talk to your medical team, For example, Regional Cancer Care Associates, the top choice for advanced cancer treatments in Little Silver, NJ, can help you and your family to successfully navigate your cancer care. If you’re in need of recommendations or resources, reach out to your healthcare team—they’ve helped others get through this and can do the same for you. Ask your doctor for suggestions on how to make your relationship with your pet safer.
If you’re experiencing a medical emergency (whether or not you think it’s animal-related), get yourself to an urgent care immediately. If you have concerns, like how much does an urgent care visit cost, know that it’s usually far cheaper going to an urgent care facilities than it is the ER. For comparison, the average emergency room visit was $1,389 in 2017, and the average urgent care visit was between $100 and $150.
As you take measures to keep yourself safe around your pet, it’s critical to keep your pet healthy, too. A healthy pet will be less likely to transmit infections to you, keeping you healthy and safe as you interact with Fido and Fluffy.
When possible, it’s best to keep your pet inside as much as possible. But that isn’t always a viable option, particularly when it comes to canine companions who need to be walked and let outside to relieve themselves. If no one else is able to take over walk duty, be sure you have the most control possible over your pup. Opt for a reputable dog harness store to find a dog harness and leash that allow you to monitor your pet closely and ensure they don’t stray from your line of sight. Keep them away from trash or pet waste, and separated from any strange or potentially sick animals.
Visit your pet’s veterinarian and communicate your concerns about cancer treatment or immunocompromising conditions as they relate to your pet. The vet can ensure your pet is up to date on vaccines, tested for any conditions, and generally healthy to keep you both safe.
While you’ll certainly want to spend time with your pet through treating cancer or dealing with other conditions affecting your immune system, it’s important that you keep yourself safe in the process. By keeping your pet healthy and taking care while you’re around them, you’ll help to make sure you’re around to spend time with them for years to come.