January is National Blood Donor Month and many of us will go out and donate some blood to help those in need. We as humans tend to lead with our helping hand. It amazing to think that over a course of a ½ hour, you can contribute to saving a life. Which led me to ponder how veterinarians supply dogs with blood under dire circumstances. Well it turns out it’s the same way as humans, through doggy blood donors.
One dog can donate enough blood to help four other dogs in need. Now, doggy blood and human blood are different and obviously can’t be interchanged. So, vets across the country turn to doggy donors to keep up the supply needed to treat dogs during emergencies and surgeries.
To be able to donate blood, your dog must be at least six years old and be 55 pounds or heavier. In addition, your dog must be up-to-date on vaccines and have a gentle disposition. Just like with human donors, the process is rather simple and painless. But the contribution is priceless and can go a long way to saving other doggy lives. “Dogs need blood for the same reasons that humans need blood donations,” said Blood Bank Program Director Jill Greene. “Trauma or certain types of cancer, they can have organ issues, with kidney or liver that require a blood transfusion, so it’s very similar to humans. The difference is that dogs don’t really know they are donating blood to other dogs so we give them a massage we give them treats, and they get to choose a toy out of the toybox.”
As with humans, dogs that give blood must be screened before they can donate and most doggy blood banks ask for a commitment of two years, with the dog giving between four to six donations per year. “It is not a painful procedure which is confirmed by lots of our repeat donors – many of whom have donated for a few years – bounding through the session doors to see us with their tails wagging,” says Pet Blood Bank veterinary supervisor Jenny Walton.
Unlike human blood donation centers, which are common and easy to find across the country, doggy blood donation centers are scarce. Due to the fact that there a few donation centers and little knowledge and promotion around dog blood donations, many clinics must depend on large emergency animal hospitals for dogs blood supplies. Similar to humans, dogs have five major blood types and one is a universal donor type, like the human version of O negative.
So, National Blood Donor Month is actually something you can actually do with your dog! Below is some additional information on how and where your dog can donate. The information is supplied from Petfinder.com(www.petfinder.com/dogs/dog-health/dog-blood-donor/) and you can find additional information on their site.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Requirements for blood donors vary from state to state. If you’re interested in having your pet become a blood donor, contact your local veterinarian, veterinary school, emergency animal clinic or one of the following blood banks:
- Animal Blood Bank, Dixon, California; (707) 678-7350
- Eastern Veterinary Blood Blank, Annapolis, Maryland; (800) 949-EVBB; www.evbb.com
- Hemopet, Garden Grove, California; (714) 891-2022; http://web.tiscali.it/hemopet
- Midwest Animal Blood Services, Stockbridge, Michigan; (877) 517-MABS; www.midwestabs.com