Dogs Sniff Out Danger for Kids with Food Allergies

Posted 8.17.10 | Sarah O'Brien

For children with severe food allergies, going to the mall, a restaurant or even school can be dangerous. In some cases, just being in the room with people who have recently eaten peanuts or drank milk could spur a potentially deadly anaphylactic reaction. Until recently, the solution has been to keep these children in a carefully controlled environment. But with the help of some specially trained furry friends, there is a new level of freedom for those with food allergies.

Allergy detection dogs are being trained in facilities across the country as companions for children with food allergies. Just as dogs can be trained to use their extraordinary sense of smell to detect bombs or drugs, they can also be trained to detect minute amounts of allergens, like peanuts, in any form.

These dogs are constant companions for children with food allergies. They scan house guests for any allergen residue; scrutinize groceries, books and other items you bring home, and accompany you to public places where they scan people and environments for contamination. Check out how Rock’O helps Riley, an eight-year old girl with a severe peanut allergy, navigate her daily routine. Watch YouTube video

Allergy detection dogs don’t come cheap – prices range from $10,000 to $15,000. But across the country, communities are pitching in to help families in need. Jett McConnell, of Spokane, Washington, was able to raise enough money for his allergy dog Farley. Watch YouTube video

If you are interested in an allergy detection dog of your own, there are currently several facilities that train allergy-detecting dogs, including Peanut Detector Dogs and Angel Service Dogs. There are also detection dogs for other conditions, including diabetes. The diabetic alert dogs can detect high and low blood sugar levels in children.

Would you consider getting an allergy detection dog?

- Sarah

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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.