The Canadian Medical Association voted in favour Tuesday of supporting a ban on all pets, except for certified service animals such as guide dogs, travelling inside aircraft cabins on all Canadian passenger planes.
B.C. physician Mark Schonfeld says current federal regulations allowing major national airlines to accept pets in cabins are posing serious threats to people allergic to animals.
Cats and small dogs are the animals most likely to be found onboard, though some airlines allow birds and rabbits as well.
"While airlines argue that this is a great convenience for pet owners, the practice actually exposes our patients, and their passengers, to significant allergens that can make the journey very difficult — and occasionally quite seriously ill as a result," Schonfeld said Tuesday at the doctors' group's annual assembly in St. John's.
"People have to travel with EpiPens, adrenalin, bronchodilators and antibiotics. Some people end up having their entire holidays ruined."
Schonfeld said allergies to pet allergens are now classified by the World Health Organization as a disability.
He said pet allergies are triggered by animal dander, saliva, sebum and fur. "These allergens are constantly shed into the air," he said, where they cling to seats, carpets and aisles and are spread by air circulating systems.
Passengers with severe allergies can end up with serious allergic reactions; some end up needing treatment in an intensive care.
Delegates voted 93 per cent in favour of the motion.