Dog blood donors are desperately needed to provide blood for life-saving treatments for sick and injured dogs.
The Pet Blood Bank runs dog donor sessions and provides blood that can be used by vets, like a canine version of the human blood service. To be able to give blood your dog must fulfil certain criteria.
Dog blood donor criteria:
- Be between one and eight years old.
- Weigh more than 25kg.
- Be vaccinated.
- Have never travelled abroad.
- Fit and healthy.
- Not on any medication.
- Have a good temperament.
Register as a dog blood donor
Visit the Pet Blood Bank website to register your dog as a blood donor and find local donor sessions.
Dogs giving blood: five FAQs
Q1. What happens when a dog gives blood?
A. First, each dog is given a health check by a vet to ensure that he is suitable to donate. This includes checking the dog's medical history, examining him, and taking a blood sample which is tested to check for red blood cells to ensure the dog is healthy. In preparation for the donation, a small area on the neck is shaved and local anaesthetic cream applied to where the needle will be inserted.
The donation team take each pet into another room to give blood. With the dog lying on his side on a treatment table, a needle is inserted into the jugular vein in the pet's neck and blood drawn out into a sealed bag. The donation stage only takes around five to 10 minutes.
Afterwards dogs are taken to a refreshment area for a drink, a tasty snack, and a reward.
Q2. What happens if my dog gets stressed during donation?
A. The welfare of dogs is the top priority for Pet Blood Bank. If your pet is unable to settle on the treatment table or shows signs of stress, the donation will be stopped or will not even begin.
Signs that your pet is unhappy include wriggling and trying to get up, but also more subtle signs of stress. A dog's heart rate is taken during the health check and then just before the donation. If there is a big rise, then this is a sign that the dog is not comfortable. The team will gently hold the dog during donation to prevent any injuries should the dog suddenly try to jump up. They also monitor for any signs of tension in the dog's body which indicate the dog is uncomfortable.
Owners are encouraged to be with their pets throughout the whole process and to give lots of praise and treats to help dogs relax.
Many first-time visitors do not donate. The team help dogs build positive associations with the process and advise owners on training they can do at home. Often dogs will then go on to donate at their next session.
Q3. Who takes the donation when a dog gives blood?
A. Pet Blood Bank has teams who put on donor sessions throughout the country. The staff are qualified vets, vet nurses, and phlebotomists (trained to take blood from patients). Donor sessions often take place at local vet practices which allow the Pet Blood Bank team to use their facilities.
Q4. Does it hurt the dog when the needle is inserted?
A. No - anaesthetic cream numbs the neck easing the discomfort of the needle. After donating dogs should take it easy for the rest of the day. The following day they can get back to their normal activities such as agility training, walking, or retrieving. If your dog shows any signs of being unwell owners are advised to contact the Pet Blood Bank.
Q5. How often can a dog donate blood?
A. As long as your dog continues to fulfil the donor criteria, he can donate three or four times a year.