Dear Daisy Dog: I take high doses of prednisone and other immunosuppressant drugs to manage my autoimmune disease. Is it safe for me to get a dog?
Daisy Responds: Your health care providers can answer your question as it relates to your own health, but I can share some general information.
We dogs offer unconditional love and support, and we encourage people to go outside for a walk in the fresh air – all part of a healthy lifestyle. So living with a dog has many benefits.
Most people with diseases or medications that suppress the immune system can live safely with pets, as long as they take reasonable precautions.
Start by focusing on preventive health care for your new dog. Keep all vaccinations up to date, because some diseases, such as rabies and leptospirosis, can be transferred from dog to human.
Give your dog a chewable monthly tablet to prevent heartworms and kill intestinal parasites, including roundworms and hookworms. If these intestinal parasites were transmitted to you, they could cause blindness, seizures, organ damage and skin problems.
Fleas and ticks on your dog can cause difficulties for you, too, so use one of the many preventive products available through your veterinarian.
Feed your dog a cooked, commercial diet, not raw food. Raw diets increase your risk of developing a food-borne infection.
Wash your hands after scooping your dog’s poop, after playing with your dog and before eating.
Your veterinarian is one of your family doctors, so confiding in your vet about your own health will help ensure that both you and your new dog remain healthy.