Owning a pet offers numerous mental and physical health benefits. Taking care of a pet is especially beneficial if you undergo a significant life stressor, as they provide unconditional love and support. While owning a pet offers many benefits, providing the best pet care can be challenging if you are undergoing cancer treatment. Understanding how to cope with these challenges while receiving cancer care will make it easier for you to take care of any pets during such a difficult time.
Pet owners should know a few things while taking care of their pets during cancer treatment.
How Pets Help People Undergoing Cancer Treatment
Anyone owning a pet knows that they offer love and comfort, especially if you are going through a lot of stress. Pets provide much-needed companionship, especially if you feel lonely while receiving cancer care. Simply taking care of a cat or dog will help take your mind off of your cancer diagnosis. Even petting an animal can improve your mood and reduce any feelings of anxiety, loneliness, or depression. Pets for cancer patients are especially beneficial if a person lives alone due to the companionship.
Additional Health Benefits of Pets
Taking care of a dog or other animal also provides numerous health benefits. For example, numerous studies show that the presence of a pet can help lower blood pressure, regulate heart rate, and even shorten injury recovery times. Owning a pet is also an effective way for cancer patients to get more physical activity, such as going on relaxing walks and spending more time in nature. Getting additional exercise while taking care of pets will also reduce fatigue, improve your mental health, and help you avoid weight gain.
Tips on Providing Pet Care
Cancer treatment can often be expensive, making it more challenging for you to provide pet care. Many patients often lose income due to their inability to work full time. Discussing these challenges with your veterinarian is essential, as you may be eligible for free or reduced-cost programs for taking care of pets due to your circumstances. Getting your pet plenty of exercise is also vital, as some days, you may not have enough energy to take your dog for a walk. Asking a friend or neighbor for help is a good idea if you need assistance taking care of your pets.
Communicate with Your Doctors About Cancer Care
Telling your doctors that you have any pets is essential, as you may need to take additional precautions due to your cancer treatment. For example, you might not be able to be around pets for the first few months after receiving a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. You may need to arrange pet boarding or contact a pet sitter for an extended period of time. Reaching out to one of your family members or friends to take care of a dog or cat is another good idea if you know someone who loves animals. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor specific questions about pet care, such as if you need to get someone else to clean the litter box or if you need to avoid letting your pet sleep in the same bed with you.
Family and Caregiver Support
Family can often play a critical role in giving you additional support for taking care of your pet while receiving cancer treatment. Pets usually thrive by following a daily routine, as a family or a cancer caregiver can help provide essential pet care, whether it’s getting them exercise, feeding them, or taking them to the vet. Planning ahead will make it much easier to stay organized while taking care of your pets during these difficult times.
Other Health Considerations
Pet owners often worry if their pet may cause their health to get worse due to their compromised immune system. Discussing these concerns with your doctor is a good idea in helping you to take necessary precautions during your cancer treatment. For example, it’s recommended to keep your pet’s nails trimmed to avoid any scratches. Avoiding rough play with your pet is also essential to prevent your dog or cat from accidentally biting your hand. Even a minor wound can turn into an infection and lead to numerous health issues.
Undergoing cancer treatment is a major challenge for anyone. While owning pets offers many benefits, they can often create difficulties if you try to do everything independently. Reaching out to family or getting cancer caregiver support is a good idea if you need extra help taking care of pets. Receiving family support for pet care is a great way to save you a lot of stress while going through these difficult times.