Did you know that dogs can donate blood to help save the life of another dog? Here at the Riverview Animal Hospital we perform blood transfusions as part of cancer therapy, during and after surgery, if a pet is suffering from anemia or an infection such as parvovirus, or if they have lost a significant amount of blood resulting from trauma.
How Does Canine Blood Donation It Work?
We have an Emergency Blood Donor list comprised of family pets that have been volunteered by their owners. We blood type these donors and provide them an “Emergency Blood Donor” collar tag. When a blood donation is required, we find a donor on our list with the matching blood type and call upon them to come to the hospital. Both the blood typing and the blood donation are safe, non-invasive and pain free procedures. To determine the blood type we collect no more than 3mLs of blood, which is the usual amount drawn for any routine blood work. Then, during the donation, we shave a small area on the dog’s neck and collect the necessary amount of units of blood, approximately 450-500 mLs, which only takes a few minutes to collect. Occasionally sedation is required to collect the sample.
Can Any Dog Become a Blood Donor?
Unfortunately not every dog is eligible to become a blood donor -some dogs are simply too small, others too mature. We require donors to be healthy, even-tempered and between the ages of 1-8 years old. They need to weigh more than 50lbs, though they must be fit, and female dogs need to be spayed and have never had a litter. We also require that the dog be up to date on his/her vaccines and we recommend that they be on heartworm prevention medication.
Are There Any Benefits For Blood Donors?
Yes! Our donors are entitled to receive one free unit of blood for each unit of blood they donate, if required in his/her lifetime. The blood typing and the “Emergency Blood Donor” collar tag are provided at no cost, and we run a free wellness blood panel on all our donors. Undoubtedly the greatest benefit is the satisfaction of knowing that your dog has helped save a life!
What About Cats?
Cats can also get blood transfusions. However there are risks involved with taking blood from a cat that excludes them from being regular donors. Unlike dogs, cats generally require sedation in order for us to collect a sufficient amount of blood for a transfusion. We do not keep a list of cat blood donors here at Riverview Animal Hospital, as often times our clinic cats donate their blood, or staff cats are able to be volunteered.
How Do I Volunteer My Dog as a Blood Donor?
It’s easy! Just fill out a registration form and your veterinarian will ensure that your dog meets the requirements. Once your dog is accepted into the program, you will be contacted to set up an appointment for the free blood typing here at Riverview Animal Hospital; we’ll then perform a free wellness blood panel, provide you with the “Emergency Blood Donor” collar tag, and add you to our donor list!