Can I look after my pet when my child is having treatment?

There’s some advice you need that you can only get from those who’ve been there. That’s why we’ve asked parents who’ve been through similar experiences to share their thoughts on topics that you’ve told us you’d like tips, advice and guidance on.

Wondering how to look after your pet when your child is going through treatment? Have a look at the tips from other parents below.

Your vet and your pet

It’s important that your pet’s immunisations and parasite control is up to date, so make sure that you check with your vet if you’re not sure about worming programmes and vaccinations. You can find more detailed information about looking after your pet when your child is going through cancer treatment from the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG). 

We kept our cat as usual, just made sure all jabs, worming and flea spray was up to date, and got the vet to cut her nails.

Ask for a helping hand

Taking care of a pet can be a lot of work even when you’re not looking after a child on treatment, so asking friends and families for hand with walking or feeding can help lessen the load.

I had a rota of people who would walk our dog three or four times a week as we did not have time.

If you get on well with your neighbours or have friends or family close by make sure they have a key and can pop in if you’re away longer than expected.

Remember the importance of hygiene

It’s really important that hygiene is maintained at all times, especially handwashing after any contact with pets. Children on treatment must also avoid contact with animal faeces (poo) and litter trays, and should avoid their pets licking their faces. You can find out more information and advice about how to maintain hygiene when your child is on treatment from CCLG.

Although generally there’s no reason why your child should stay away from their pet, there are certain pets that are important to avoid, such as farm animals, reptiles and birds. It’s also important that you don’t get any new pets until after the end of treatment to reduce infection risk. CCLG provide more information and advice in their booklet ‘Handling animals and pets’ which you can download here

We’ve asked parents to share their tips and advice from their own experiences and what they’ve found helpful. But if you are worried about how to manage your pet while your child is going through treatment, talk to your doctor who will be able to give you more advice and guidance.

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