Blood Donors Wanted

Printer-friendly versionWhen an animal has lost a lot of blood or is suffering from severe anaemia, a blood transfusion is usually the best treatment. However, unlike humans’, dogs’ blood can only be stored for three weeks, so establishing a blood bank is not really practical. So when we need a donor, we really need a donor.

Until now we have been fortunate that Julie Perry, a local lady with seven large breed dogs, has always come to our rescue. Julie has always responded immediately to our call, frequently reaching the practice before we have finished getting out all of the transfusion apparatus. She has 5 Rottweilers and 2 German Shepherds, all with lovely temperaments and willing to sit quietly whilst giving blood. However, we are always mindful that we do not wish to impose upon Julie and her dogs’ generosity, and as such, have decided to set up a Canine Blood Donor Register at the practice, to safeguard all of our dogs.

What is required to be a canine blood donor?

Potential donors should be:

  • 1 – 7 years old;
  • over 25kg (55 lbs) in weight;
  • in good health;
  • not overweight;
  • easy to handle at the vets;
  • fully vaccinated;
  • and not have travelled outside the U.K.

If your dog meets all of the requirements above, then we would be delighted for you both to join our blood transfusion register.

What is asked of donor dogs and their owners?

  • We ask all owners of donor dogs for as many contact telephone numbers as possible for the register. This maximises our chance of contacting you in an emergency;
  • We allow dogs to donate blood a maximum of twice a year, but always try to contact dogs which have not given for a long time;
  • If your dog is called upon for a blood transfusion, we usually ask that you come to the surgery immediately.
  • The donor dog would be required to sit relatively still, whilst a needle with attached collection bag is inserted into the jugular vein, similar to taking a blood sample. In some breeds this may require clipping an area of the neck – this should be borne in mind if you show your dog. The whole process usually takes 10-20 mins.
  • Usually we aim to collect 400ml of blood, which can take anything from 5 – 15 minutes. We try to make a fuss of all donor dogs whilst they are donating blood, so that the procedure is not unpleasant for them – treats usually help!
  • Afterwards, the vet will usually rush on to give the collected blood to transfusion recipient, and the donor dog and their owner is free to return home.
  • Donor dogs do not require any special aftercare, but we do recommend keeping them relatively quiet for 24 hours, whilst new red blood cells are released into the blood stream.
  • With your permission, we will tell the owners of the dog who receives blood, you and your pet’s details. Most owners are keen to thank the donors directly themselves, and strong and valued friendships often ensue.
  • As a thank you from the practice, your dog will receive a Blood Donor Certificate, each time they give blood, together with a voucher for a complimentary annual health check and vaccination.
  • The bright lights of fame can also not be overlooked:

If you would like to know more about joining the Blood Transfusion Register, or have any questions about the procedure, please contact Sonya at the practice.