A growing body of research is confirming what pet owners have long known: there is an innate bond between humans and animals that has a positive effect on the health and overall well-being of pet owners and pets alike.

Pets can be a great source of emotional comfort for people undergoing treatment for cancer. In addition to the simple joy their presence brings, studies have shown that petting dogs and cats releases “feel good” hormones in humans, such as serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.

This e-booklet provides tips and guidance on caring for your pet when you have cancer—but you shouldn’t be alone in this endeavor. Build a personal support network of family and friends to help you. You likely have many people in your life who would be happy to take on any number of tasks, including walking your dog, changing your cat’s litter, taking your pet to veterinary appointments or simply giving your pet some special attention.

There are also professional resources available. A few that offer services nationwide are listed in the Resource section.

In this e-booklet, we focus on dogs and cats, but there is information on other types of animals in the “Keeping Yourself Healthy” section. Although we often refer to “your pet” rather than “your pets,” we recognize that many households have multiple pets, perhaps even of different species.