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!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Charlie beat out 1,612 dogs from 175
breeds and varieties to take home the
prestigious Best in Show title.
Shadow, a pregnant Lab-Terrier mix,
woke up her family when a fire started
near a space heater in their home.
This command can be a useful training
strategy for owners whose kitties are
always underfoot or jumping on counters.
A little bit of caution and preparedness
will go a long way toward helping to keep
your pets safe through the…
When a dog suddenly starts vomiting at
Thanksgiving dinner, SuperVet comes to
the rescue... and for some turkey.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect
on what you love most about your cat —
and to show her some affection…
Before sharing leftover turkey or mashed
potatoes, find out if your favorite holiday
eats are safe or dangerous for…
The Bombay may look like a jaguar, but he’s much more easygoing and laid back than his wild doppelgänger.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.