Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
One of the many advances I’ve seen in my 33-year veterinary career is the development of transfusion medicine for animals. In many cases, blood transfusions can serve as a lifeline until dogs can get better on their own. Here's a little background on when dogs need transfusions and how your dog can become a donor.
Dogs need red blood cells when they suffer severe blood loss from traumatic injuries or conditions such as acute or chronic hemolytic disease or chronic anemia. Dogs may also receive transfusions of fresh-frozen plasma to treat or control bleeding disorders such as von Willebrand’s disease or to provide other plasma proteins and globulins in the event of illnesses or infectious diseases such as pancreatitis or parvovirus.
Large veterinary hospitals can go through blood quickly if they are treating a dog who is bleeding heavily. Where do they get the blood they need, and how do they replenish the supply? Commercial animal blood banks are one source. And some veterinary hospitals keep donor animals “on staff” or rely on volunteer donors.
Just like people, dogs have different blood types. Blood typing identifies whether a dog has a blood type that’s appropriate for transfusions. Canine blood types, known as Dog Erythrocyte Antigens (DEA), fall into eight different groups. Not all of the types are appropriate for transfusions, but DEA 4 is generally considered to be universal.
Each blood bank or veterinary hospital has specific criteria for canine donors, but they usually look for dogs with the following qualifications:
Short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds such as Bulldogs and Pugs need not apply, but any other breed or mix who meets the screening criteria may be considered as a potential blood donor.
Retired racing Greyhounds are the donor dogs of choice at Hemopet in Garden Grove, California, which was the first private nonprofit animal blood bank. The dogs live at the facility and donate for at least one year, after which they are made available for adoption. Other blood banks may obtain donor dogs from shelters and then adopt them out after a given period. That’s what I call a win-win for both the dogs and the facilities.
What do the dogs think about their work as donors? It’s a good guess that they like it just fine. In the same way that the Red Cross gives you cookies and orange juice after you donate, these dogs get plenty of treats as a reward, not to mention lots of petting and attention.
If you are interested in having your dog become a blood donor, ask your veterinarian if there is a local blood bank that would welcome him as a volunteer. His donation could save a life.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
The Montez family was happy to be
reunited with Corky and to add their dog's
one-eyed friend, Captain, to their…
Dr. Marty Becker dispels misconceptions
like "all cats in a shelter are sick" or that
Searching for a pet sitter or boarding
facility for your avian friend? Make sure
to ask these important questions.
Does your kitty ever take kibble away
from his dish and munch on it in another
spot? Here's what's going on.
A people-loving dog who hails from Italy,
the Bracco Italiano is usually happiest
when he's with his family or out…
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.