Can You Die From A Severe Dog Allergy?

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

People can be highly allergic to dogs. But can a person be so allergic that simply being in the presence of a dog would kill them? Some people claim that their dog allergies can be deadly.

Recently, a woman was reported to have been forcibly removed from a Southwest flight after claiming she was deathly allergic to dogs. The 46-year-old saw two dogs on the flight, one of which was a service dog, and demanded they be removed. When the woman wouldn’t follow staff requests for her to leave the plane, the pilot called officers to remove her. This created a bit of a scandal in the news and posed an interesting question. If you are allergic to dogs can you really die from just being in the same room as a dog? Can a pet allergy be deadly without actual physical contact between pet and human?

What Is Anaphylaxis?

Pet allergies are not generally deadly, but anaphylactic shock can be. Anaphylactic shock can be defined as a life-threatening and sometimes fatal allergic reaction.

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. It typically causes more than one of the following: an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure. These symptoms typically come on over minutes to hours.

Most people who are at risk of anaphylactic shock are aware of their condition and take precautions. People who have allergies this severe usually carry Epi-pens in case of life-threatening situations. They might wear life alert bracelets or other identification making others aware of their condition. Allergens that most often cause anaphylactic shock are insect bites or stings, drugs such as vaccinations, peanuts, shellfish, or chemicals like latex. 

There have been rare, idiopathic, or one-time instances, of anaphylactic shock occurring in humans after physical contact with a dog.  However, most allergists do not list anaphylactic shock as a possible allergy symptom of coming into contact with dogs. 

What To Do If You Have A Severe Dog Allergy

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

The good news is, if you are at risk of having a severe allergic reaction to a dog, it most likely won’t be a deadly one. People with severe allergies to dogs may experience hives, sneezing, itching, and trouble breathing when coming into contact with a dog after a few minutes. If you feel allergy symptoms after coming into contact with a dog, it’s a good idea to remove yourself from the situation or seek an over-the-counter drug like Benadryl. If your allergies are severe, your doctor may also prescribe stronger allergy medications or an Epi-pen, if necessary. It’s a good idea to prepare to deal with your allergies if you travel because many airports and trains have security and emotional support dogs, as well as service dogs and pets traveling with their humans. Better to be safe than miserable the whole trip.

Despite the lack of medical evidence, there are still people who claim that a dog allergy can be deadly for humans. Everyone should use common sense when they have any allergy or medical condition. Dog allergies can definitely make you miserable, and if you ever have trouble breathing, seek medical attention. 

If you have dog allergies and you feel like they are becoming more severe, schedule an appointment with your allergist.

Do you or anyone you know suffer from a severe dog allergy? Have you ever heard of a dog allergy being deadly to someone? Let us know in the comments.