Can Dogs be Blood Donors?

Many people are familiar with blood donations and the part they play in saving the life of others. However, in this article, Holidays 4 Dogs asks – can dogs be blood donors too?

The simple answer is yes, – dogs can indeed be blood donors. As canine medical science moves on, there are many more animals having increasingly complicated medical treatments. Many of these treatments may require blood transfusions.

In 2007, the Pet Blood Bank began operating as a charity and is the only such blood bank in the UK. Owing to a change in legislation at the time, it became possible for vets to store blood from pets. This meant they were able to carry out life saving transfusions.

The service holds regular clinics for blood donations, colleting blood from donor dogs whose owners want to get involved in the scheme. In the early days of the service, just 500 units were collected, (one unit being 450ml) from less than 200 donors. Presently, nearly 5,000 units are collected each year.

Can my dog donate?

According Pet Blood Bank your dog needs to meet the following requirements;

  • Aged between one and eight years.
  • Weigh more than 25kg.
  • Have a good temperament.
  • Never travelled abroad.
  • Vaccinated.
  • Not on any medication.

What happens at a dog blood donor clinic?

The first part of the session will involve the vet giving your dog a health and temperament check. If this is satisfactory, a small sample of blood will be taken from the donor. This is to check the blood is suitable.

A small area of fur is clipped from the dog’s neck and 450ml of blood drawn. The process takes around five to ten minutes. Once your dog has given blood he can sit in the refreshment area and enjoy a drink and a biscuit!

If at any time a dog appears stressed, the session will end immediately. However, the procedure causes no pain and, indeed, there are many dogs that enthusiastically bound into blood donor clinics for repeat donor sessions – and the chance of a treat!

Where does dog donor blood go?

Once collected, the donated blood units are stored in bags. The bags contain anticoagulants to stop the blood from clotting.  The units are then despatched in protective packaging and sent to a central processing centre in Loughborough. Once processed, blood is despatched to veterinary clinics around the UK.

If you would like to get involved in the Pet Blood Donor scheme you can register on-line or telephone 01509 232 222 to find out more.