Question about dogs and lowered immunity - My Ovacome

My Ovacome

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Question about dogs and lowered immunity

delia2 profile image

Hi. I have a lively border collie whom I love dearly but I read somewhere that you can't let them lick you or pick up their poo when you're having chemo. I'm the sole dog walker because my husband has a rotator cuff tear. I feel he will be a comfort to me and keep some structure in my life (the dog), but don't know what to think about the germ issue. I have the same questions about children and public places. Do I really have to wear a mask or is it only if your blood counts go too low. I hesitated to ask this because I read all your posts and know that many of you are dealing with really really challenging health issues, but also you have a lot of experience with chemo. Thanks!

44 Replies

Hi, having had 2 recurrences over the years and having bought a puppy when first diagnosed I can honestly say I never had any issues regarding my dog and germs. hand on heart he was the best thing ever, took my mind off my woes and tbh having him with me when I was feeling down was so beneficial like he understood when I was feeling rough. Unfortunately hes no longer with us, having lost him a year ago from his own health issues. As for children and wearing a mask. I never wore one just avoided too many ppl when I knew I was at my lowest. hope that helps. Kathy xx

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to Katmal-UK

Thank you. That helps a lot and makes me feel better about going through chemo. Xo

Cinia777 profile image
Cinia777 in reply to delia2

Hi Delia I was told the same but had no one yo help with pking up dog poo. I did wear mask and gloves when picking thier poo up

When grandkids were over I made sure I wash my hands often and close toilet seat when flushing toilet. Was told at chem class

If someone cms in bath rm right after toilet flush chemo drops in the air inhale could cause cancer 30years later. I slept with two dogs through the whole 9 months of treatment And I was just fine. No doggie kisses!!! And no licking if there r open wounds.

Mptelesca profile image
Mptelesca in reply to Katmal-UK very sorry you lost your beloved dog. I was advised of my first recurrence in January...two days after we picked up puppy. She has been challenging to train but truly took my mind off things. Just a long has it been since your second recurrence?



Katmal-UK profile image
Katmal-UK in reply to Mptelesca

Hi. I was advised of my second recurrence early June 2013, had 3 chemos, midway scan showed NED August 2013, had three more chemos then went on to Olaparib early Jan 2014. xx

Mptelesca profile image
Mptelesca in reply to Katmal-UK

That sounds so encouraging and wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing!



Hi I too have had a puppy through my chemo and I’ve picked up her poo (not with bare hands lol) and she is very licky and affectionate and I’ve had no problems x

Regarding children etc I have grandchildren who are a great distraction so I love having them round but if they’re ever poorly then they stay away x if I go to the supermarket I go at quieter times and just have a small handgel I use on the trolly and for my hands when I’ve finished and if someone coughs or splutters I just try and avoid them x

You have to still live your life just avoid unnecessary risks when you can xx

Enjoy the dog walks and the bit of exercise it affords you xx


Bev xx

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to BeeWild

Thanks, Bev. That sounds encouraging and the hand gel is a great idea! Xo

I too had my first puppy during my first line of chemo and it was the best thing I ever did. The joy he brought all of us during the rougher times was and is priceless. I remember when he was teething and going through that bitey stage having to explain the multiple little nips on my hands when I was having my chemo but it never caused me any problems.

I am on my third line just now and I would not seek out anyone with a streaming cold or stand close to a cougher but otherwise just carry on as normal.

Hope everything goes well


Thanks so much. This is very helpful! xo

Even though my sister has cats delia she was told just to put on the mask and gloves to clean up pans during chemo. What a cutie.

Wishing you all the best.

Thank you! He's a bit wild! Your info is good to know. xo

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Hi I have 4 dogs and I worried about this initially after my diagnosis & started chemo but I was just as sensible about hygiene as I was before and have had no issues. I pick up dog poo but carry pocket size hand sanitizer and just avoid letting any of mine snog me which is difficult on times 😂

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to Hidden

I know what you mean about the snogging! I will carry hand sanitizer. Thanks! Xo

I did not need chemo but our little doggy was a massive support and once I got a bit stronger taking her for walkies was wonderful. I’m sure that if you are sensible it will not be a problem. Good luck with everything.

Love and hugs xxx

Hi Delia,

What a lovely dog!I have a cat & cuddled her a lot through chemo.

One thing I think is important is hand washing, regularly throughout the day, using your own towel. As the other ladies have said, avoid people with coughs, colds, etc and go to shops at quieter times.

Remember you are at your lowest ebb approx 10 days after the chemo.

Animals make us happy, lower our blood pressure & raise our endorphins and thus (I believe) support our immune system 🙂 🐶🐱

Linda x

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to Seasun36-uk

I agree about the endorphins and will be careful about hand washing.

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to Seasun36-uk

I meant to say thank you! Xoxo

I had my spleen taken out during my surgery and am on prophylactic penicillin for life. I was bitten twice by my dog during my chemotherapy and survived. I cuddle my dog and pick up pooh just as always but I do take care to wash my hands after cuddling him etc. I think be sensible but not paranoid is the answer.

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to Neona

That sounds great! Thanks! Xo

Be vigilant with hand washing / cleansing after picking up poo, grooming etc and ensure any cuts and grazes are covered and Its unlikely you could become infected from a dog. As for members of the public and children, different story. Again regular hand washing is important as you are more likely to infect yourself from touching surfaces infected with germs than inhale them from someone’s sneeze. Germs can live for hours on a nice shiny ‘call the lift’ button for example. Keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth when out and about and do not eat anything unless you wash your hands first.

I avoid cinemas and the like and busy times at the supermarket when my WBC count is low.

I don’t think masks do much to protect the wearer rather protect others from the wearer but I do wear one when cleaning out my chickens for instance where I might inhale mould or fungus spores.

PS meant to say, great photo!

Thank you for your advice. I will definitely be washing my hands a lot ! Xo

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to delia2


When you say "lively" I picture a dog that needs lots of outdoor exercise. Maybe your partner could go with you on walks? The walks might be good for all three of you. Also keeping your pet healthy is good practice. Ticks and fleas are not good for anyone and the photo is indicative of woodsy locations. Pet vaccines that are live should be checked out. Ultimately, sensible but not paranoid as already stated I think captures it very well.

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to RonLitBer

Yes he does need to run off lead and he walks fast on lead. But I get the idea that some exercise helps people with fatigue—if one is not seriously ill.

RonLitBer profile image
RonLitBer in reply to delia2

I did not mean to impose exercise but thought your partner might be able to perhaps pick up the dog poop if not too difficult with the rotator cuff tear.

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to RonLitBer

I love exercise. My partner is not a dog person (😛), but he is extremely supportive in our her ways. Plus I am bad at asking for help but getting better since my surgery. I appreciate your afvice! !!! Take care! 😀

RonLitBer profile image
RonLitBer in reply to delia2

My partner is not a dog person either but I had a dog when we met so it was a package deal. I too have difficulty asking so I get it.

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to RonLitBer


I was told similar but here I am with 4 dogs and 4 ponies who all need me to look after them. In the end I mucked out stables, fed dogs, walked dogs and went to pony club camp with my daughter - all during chemo. When I told the chemo nurses I needed to be at pony club camp the next session they changed my time for me so I could make sure my daughter was okay, after a quick change in a layby out of wellies and into a clean skirt I headed off to chemo for the afternoon.

I'm not recommending it as it was hard going at times, but I did it and was fine with no missed chemo sessions. I made sure I always washed my hands and left anything too messy to my husband.

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to bluepeterella

You sound like superwoman! This is very inspiring. Thank you! Xo

Wow! Truly inspiring.

I am a complete wuss, so it’s gratifying to be an inspiration to anyone! I was on weekly taxol which is easier than most. The nurses told me to just get on with life in between, so that’s what I did.

It does get exhausting towards the end, or at least it did for me. So credit where credit is due.

Is that you on the horse in your profile pic?

Yes that’s me

coksd profile image
coksd in reply to bluepeterella

Hi were you sick or did you suffer bone or joint pain while on weekly taxol when I was on it with carbo every 3 weeks and had a rough few days each month,

bluepeterella profile image
bluepeterella in reply to coksd

Yes some joint pain and mild neuropathy. Nothing too awful

Hi Delia. I have two chinchillas who live in a huge cage (well to be honest it's more of a luxury penthouse, if you factor in the size ratio). During chemo, which happened every 3 weeks, I still cleaned their cage, but took care to avoid scratches as well as disinfecting my hands before and after. I did not suffer from infection during chemo.. maybe just lucky?

My white blood cell count did drop below 3k a few times though... and I tried to avoid crowds where feasible during those days (mostly around day 8 to 10 after chemo). Plus carrying antibacterial hand gel and applying it frequently. That was all.

Good luck with chemo. You can do this. Xx. Maus

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to Maus123

Wow! Chinchillas! How cool is that! Thanks for your reply and take care. Xoxo

I wouldn't worry and walked my dog through chemo but if you are concerned just use a disposable glove inside the bag when you are picking up dog poo. As for not letting your dog lick you, I am reminded of a friend who said that puppy slobber was the cure for everything. I think that the affection shared between dog and owner is more important than the slight risk of infection but then I couldn't live without my spaniel.

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to Welshandproud

The glove is a good idea. Thanks! Xoxo

I have three cavalier spaniels. I do pick up after them using the poop bag inside out, I would always be extremely careful to wash my hands afterwards. Generally dogs are fantastic company and great to have around the house. I always had dogs since my diagnosis and it hasn't done me any harm, In fact I keep replacing them. I suppose I do worry what would happen if anything happens me but its understood my daughter takes over their care since she lives at home. Look at the benefits of being a dog owner, they lower blood pressure and a snuggle is the best thing you can have. Enjoy your dog, talk to him, enjoy his antics,

delia2 profile image
delia2 in reply to suzuki

I agree with you about the benefits and reassured about the germ issues. Thanks! Xo

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