Owning a pet has many health benefits such as decreased blood pressure, you feel less lonely, opportunities for exercise/outdoor activities and much more! However, there are a couple of things to consider when keeping animals with lymphoedema.
Having lymphoedema usually affects the arms or legs, however, can develop in any part of the body. It occurs because your lymphatic system is damaged and causes swelling in the body's tissues and can make you prone to infections as your immune system is impaired due to your lymphatic system not functioning fully.
Below are some tips to help keep you healthy while enjoying pets:
Wash your hands
To reduce the risk of getting unwell from germs pets can carry, it is important to wash your hands after you have played with, fed, washed and cleaned up after your pet.
Good pet hygiene
Healthy pet equals healthy owner! Practising good pet hygiene can help reduce the spread of germs between pets and people. Ensure your animal is clean before entering the home, your pet can contaminate surfaces with bacteria from outside. Dispose of your pet's waste carefully and properly to avoid getting sick. Be extra cautious with litter boxes, wear gloves to lower your risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, or if possible, get someone else to do the task.
Train your pet
Discourage your pet from rough play by introducing a toy as soon as they start using their teeth or claws during playtime.
Protect your limbs
Take care around pets that might scratch. Try to keep them away from the affected area or cover-up either with clothing or a blanket to protect your skin. The part of your body affected by lymphoedema is more vulnerable to infection due to the build-up of fluid within the tissues. Any cuts can allow bacteria to enter your body and may quickly develop into an infection.
If you do get a bite or scratch:
- Treat it as soon as possible, even if it is only small question - what does treat mean, are we saying clean the wound bed?
- Wash and dry the area thoroughly
- Apply antiseptic cream Cover if necessary
- Speak to your doctor immediately for advice if the break does not heal or shows signs of infection.
Following these tips can help to ensure a happy and healthy relationship with your pet.
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Claudia Lymphoedema patient