Click here to learn more.
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!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
A pair of eagles, who made headlines
for protecting their snow-covered eggs,
welcomed two eaglets.
A 10-month-old cat turned himself in at
the New York Police Department's 34th
precinct in the Bronx this week.
Going out of town with your cat or dog?
Here’s our checklist for accommodations,
ID, carriers, medications and much…
For those of you who aren't feline fans,
we bet we can convince you that they are
fantastic pets who deserve your…
Sharing your bed with your cat or dog is a
nice way to bond, but is it a good idea?
Our expert has the answer.
How can you tell which pet food is best for your cat or dog? Learning how to decipher the label is a great place to…
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.