Should Dialysis And Kidney Transplant Patients Keep Pets?

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A question came to the attention of the KidneyBuzz.com Team, "Can someone tell me if Dialysis or Transplant patients can still have pets around???" We thought of it as an excellent question to share and answer because many people have pets before going on Dialysis or getting a Transplant, or adopt pets after starting Dialysis or Post-Transplantation for companionship, exercise and other lifestyle purposes. 

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Medline Plus notes that, "Persons with weakened immune systems may be advised to give up their pets to avoid getting diseases from the animals." As you likely know, both Dialysis and Kidney Transplant patients suffer with weak immune systems. What's more, Medline Plus noted that people who take high doses of steroids may also consider giving up their pets, and they specifically list those who "Had an organ transplant" as a high risk group for infection from animals which may cause Kidney Transplant Failure.

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If you are like most Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetic patients you are probably reading and thinking, "There is no way I am going to give up my pet (dog, cat, lizard, hamster, etc.)! I am too attached to him/her." On Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest proud Chronic Kidney Disease pet owners post images posing with their cat while conducting Home Hemodialysis or with their loyal dog as they recover from Kidney Transplant surgery. 

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For those on Peritoneal Dialysis, you must keep pets out of the room when you do your exchanges to avoid infection. Similarly, for those on Hemodialysis, "if there is any risk of your pet biting or clawing at the tubing, you may not be able to have your pet with you during treatment," according to the Large Dialysis Organization, Fresenius Medical Care. 

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If you decide to keep your pet you must be aware of the risk of diseases that can be passed from animals to humans so ask your Veterinarian for information on infections that you might get from your pets. Also, have your Veterinarian check all your pets for any diseases. Then continually keep your pet clean and healthy including making sure that its vaccinations are all up to date.

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There are pretty straight-forward ways to protect yourself against germs and infection with a pet such as washing your hands thoroughly after handling your pet, and ALWAYS washing your hands before you eat, prepare food or take medicines. If you have birds or cats, however, have someone else clean the cages or litter box which likely contain bacteria that can be harmful to you.

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Less obvious tips include having all of your pets surgically spayed or neutered because neutered animals are less likely to roam, and therefore less likely to come down with diseases. Also, when considering to adopt a pet choose one that is 1 year old or older due to the fact that kittens and puppies are more likely to scratch and bite and to contract infections. What's more don't let your pet drink from the toilet because there are several infections which can be spread this way.

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Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetic patients should keep their pet's nails short and avoid any rough play with them, as well as any situation where you could get scratched. Cats in particular can spread what is known as Cat Scratch Disease which may be very dangerous to Chronic Kidney Disease patients. If you find that your animal has diarrhea, is coughing and sneezing, has decreased appetite, or has lost weight you should take it to the vet.

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Thus not all people who conduct Dialysis or have a Kidney Transplant must give away their pets if they’re careful and follow the above outlined steps, unless otherwise recommended by their Healthcare or Transplant Team. Visit KidneyBuzz.com every day - the #1, most trusted resource online for Daily News & Information about how those with Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetes can better manage their lives.  

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References:

"Your Home: Home Kidney Dialysis Setup." Http://www.ultracare-dialysis.com. Fresenius Medical Care Inc.

"Pets and the Immunocompromised Person: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." Http://www.nlm.nih.gov/. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

"Post Kidney Transplant." Http://lomalindahealth.org/. Loma Linda University Medical Center.