Could Your Dog Be A Blood Donor?

Transfusions save people who have suffered severe blood loss from trauma or disease. But did you know that blood transfusions also save pets’ lives? Regional animal blood banks, which collect and store blood products, are still a relatively new concept. Better veterinary care, surgery options and the increase in pet insurance to offset cost have led to an increase in life-saving blood transfusions for dogs and cats. Albuquerque’s Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers at 4000 Montgomery Blvd NE, (vescnm.com), has a volunteer blood donor program that supplies blood products to vets in the area.

Canine Blood Types

While there are more than a dozen blood types in dogs, the most important one is DEA 1.1. Dogs that test negative for DEA 1.1 are considered universal blood donors and their blood can help both DEA 1.1 positive and negative dogs. Breeds likely to be DEA 1.1 negative include greyhounds, boxers, German shepherds, dobermans, pit bulls and Irish wolf hounds. Dogs that test positive for DEA 1.1, such as labs and golden retrievers, can only donate blood to other DEA 1.1 positive dogs.

Requirements to Become a Donor

Albuquerque’s Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers always seeks animal blood donors to ensure that blood products are available when needed. They have the following requirements:

Dogs                                                                               Cats
Age: 2-6 years                                                                 Age: 2-6 years
Weight: 50 pounds or more                                        Weight: 10 pounds or more
Current on vaccinations                                               Current on vaccinations
Heartworm negative and on preventative care       FeLV/FIV/FIP negative
No on-going health problems                                     No on-going health problems
No previous history of transfusion therapy             No previous history of transfusion therapy
Pleasant disposition                                                     Pleasant disposition and strictly indoor cats

The Procedure

Your dog must first be tested to determine blood type and check for disease. Once he’s cleared for donating, he’ll be lightly sedated. A small area is shaved on his neck and a needle is inserted into his jugular, the large vein in his neck. After the blood is collected, your dog will receive water, treats and food. His system immediately starts replacing the blood; his blood volume will be back to normal in a day and his red blood cell count in two to three weeks. It’s best to restrict your dog from any strenuous activity for 24 hours after donating blood. Your dog will be asked to donate blood every six to eight weeks.

What Happens to the Blood?

Your dog donates whole blood and the blood bank separates it into two components—red blood cells and plasma. Vets use red blood cells to help dogs survive trauma and surgery, and to treat anemia, blood loss due to cancer and the inability to produce enough red blood cells due to disease. Plasma helps blood clot and is used to treat hemophilia and other inherited blood diseases and bleeding from liver disease or the ingestion of rodent poison. Depending on the amount of blood taken, your dog’s donation will help between two to four dogs.

Benefits for Animal Blood Donors

At Albuquerque’s Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers, blood transfusions save animals from life-threatening situations such as car accidents, poisonings and chronic illness.  Aside from helping save lives, owners of animal blood donors receive the following benefits:

Free annual vet exams.
Free blood analysis. Canine preliminary testing consists of  Ehrlichia, heartworm, Babesia gibsoni and Babesia canis for some breeds, CBC full chemistry panel and blood typing. Feline preliminary testing includes FeLV/FIV, Mycoplasmosis, CBC full chemistry panel and blood typing.
Free units of blood for each unit donated available throughout your pet’s life.
Free gift bag of goodies for your dog or cat.

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