But there are times when bringing a pet into the mix can have a negative effect. Namely, if you’re immune system is weak.
Animal to human flu transmission aside, there are a number of diseases pets and owners can share. For healthy people, it’s usually not too much of a big deal. For people with a weakened immune system? They can be a big deal.
And what concerns doctors is that its actually quite common to cheer up someone who’s recovering from a major illness like cancer with a brand new pet—particularly if the pet’s young, like a puppy or kitten. Just like human infants, dogs and cats are more likely to get sick when they’re young—so you can see the problem!
What are the disease that can be transmitted?
Reptiles and amphibians like snakes, lizards, and frogs can carry salmonella (in fact, a small amount of research suggest that reptiles getting into chickens to steal eggs may be a major way birds catch the disease).
Cats may have toxoplasmosis, a parasite that’s transmitted when you’re cleaning their litter box.
Both dogs and cats can transmit a number of parasites, from something simple like bringing a tick into the house (which can carry many diseases, of which Lyme Disease is the most famous), to something more serious.
Even food treats, like pig ears (which dogs love) can transmit illness.
Those are just some of the more common health problems, and most would be a tiny bump in the road for most people. But each can be catastrophic to someone already sick or weak.
How to strengthen your immune system (because we all love our pets):
Whether you don’t want to give up your pet when you get sick, or really need the companionship as you go through treatment, there’s a handful of ways you can reduce the risk of sharing germs!
-Have good boundaries with your pets. Don’t let them “kiss” you (even on your legs—broken skin or decreased protective skin flora from treatment could lead to an infection). Don’t share furniture—particularly your bed, with pets.
-Wash your hands frequently, and keep pets groomed. During tick season, check outdoor pets before bringing them into the house.
-Try not to directly touch pet food and treats (especially if it’s derived from other animals).
-Invest in poop bags (while reusing newspaper bags, etc., is respectably environmental, something you’re sure has no holes or seam tears is important when you’re guarding your immune system from pathogens).
-Avoid younger animals. If you’re getting a new pet, get an older one (most animal rescues will make sure pets are up-to-date on shots).
-Make visiting the vet a regular thing. Remember, pets age faster than us. So once a year isn’t like your yearly check up—it’s like once every 7ish years. If their outdoor pets, there’s a lot they can come into contact with, even if it’s just in your backyard. And since pets can’t warn you about early symptoms, regular vet visits is essential.
-And of course, give both you and your pets extra immune system support with colloidal silver. A little bit in their water bowls can help keep them strong so that you can be strong, too!
Share your story about how a pet helped during illness: