Cancer patients must make sure to keep pets healthy

Be sure that the vet prescribes medicines to prevent heartworms, and offers effective flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats. Pets and their sleeping areas will also need to be kept clean. You might need help with your pets’ care during some parts of your cancer treatment — it’s good to line up a helper or two before you start treatment.

Help your pet avoid infections2015_8973 Feb. 04

Dogs should be kept inside except for brief outings to use the toilet and walks on the leash in places where they won’t meet other animals. Cats should also be kept inside – those that go out are likely to hunt birds and small rodents. This is a common way cats get a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. It doesn’t often make the cat sick, but it can seriously sicken or even kill someone with weakened immunity.

Keep your pet from visiting with “outside” pets of unknown health. It’s best not to board your pet in a kennel if you can avoid it. Dog parks and pet stores that allow pets inside are other places where pets can pick up new infections.

More ways to keep your pets healthy and reduce your risk:

  • Feed pets only high-quality commercial canned or dry food, or well-cooked table food. Never let them have old or spoiled food, raw meat or its juices.
  • Keep your pet’s vaccines up to date. Ask your vet whether any vaccines are “live,” and check with your cancer team before live vaccines are given.
  • Give heartworm prevention medicines as prescribed by your vet.
  • Give your pet effective medicines to prevent flea and tick infestation to help protect you from diseases that can be transmitted by fleas and ticks.
  • Have cats tested for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency (FIV) viruses . Even though these viruses can’t infect humans, they affect the cat’s immune system and put them at risk of other infections that can infect humans.
  • Keep your pet away from animal waste, garbage, and other “found treats.”
  • Don’t let your pet drink from the toilet or standing water outside.
  • Don’t allow your pet to visit with sick pets, wild or stray animals.
  • Watch for signs of rats or mice in your home, and take measures to control them. Don’t allow your pet to hunt them; keep pets away from any infested areas. After rodents are gone, the area should be thoroughly disinfected using a bleach mixture.