Having Pets (Dogs And Cats) For People With An Ostomy
For many people with an ostomy, the companionship of pets can be a source of comfort and emotional support.
1. Benefits of Having Pets:
a. Emotional Support: Pets, particularly dogs and cats, are known to offer unconditional love and emotional support. This can be incredibly therapeutic for individuals adjusting to life with an ostomy.
b. Physical Activity: Especially for those with dogs, the regular walking can provide necessary physical activity, promoting healing and overall well-being.
c. Social Interaction: Pets can serve as a conversation starter, especially in outdoor settings, allowing ostomy patients to engage with others and reduce feelings of isolation.
2. Considerations for Ostomy Patients:
a. Pet Behavior: Young or overly energetic pets might jump or play rough, which can be a concern if they target the area around the stoma. Training or using protective guards might be necessary.
b. Hygiene: Ensure that the ostomy site is kept clean and free from potential contaminants. Cats' litter boxes should be cleaned regularly, and dog waste should be disposed of promptly.
c. Physical Strain: After surgery, there may be weight lifting restrictions which can make handling larger pets or heavy bags of pet food a challenge.
3. Tips for Ostomy Patients with Pets:
a. Protective Gear: Wear an ostomy belt or guard when playing with pets to protect the stoma from accidental swipes or hits.
b. Training: Invest time in training your pet to prevent them from jumping or targeting your ostomy area. This is especially important for puppies or kittens who are still learning boundaries.
c. Choose Calmer Breeds: If considering getting a new pet, breeds known for their calm demeanor might be more suitable.
d. Set Boundaries: As with any pet owner, setting boundaries is crucial. Ensure your pets don't enter spaces where you store or handle ostomy supplies.
e. Seek Assistance: In the early post-operative period, when physical activity might be limited, consider seeking help for pet-related tasks. This can include hiring dog walkers or asking family and friends for assistance.
f. Regularly Check Ostomy Equipment: Ensure that your pouching system is secure, especially after playing or cuddling with your pets. Cats, with their sharp claws, can sometimes cause accidental leaks if they knead on your lap.
4. Emotional Considerations:
a. Fear of Accidents: Some ostomy patients fear that their bag might leak or rupture when playing with their pets. While such incidents are rare, it’s essential to be prepared and remember that accidents can happen to anyone, with or without an ostomy.
b. Bonding: Pets can sense when their owners are unwell or upset. They often become more gentle and comforting, reinforcing the bond between pet and owner.