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Did you know that dogs can donate blood, too?

Did you know that dogs can donate blood, too?
Source: BrightVibes

An animal charity in the UK is encouraging dog owners to let their pets donate blood.

If dogs need blood tranfusions during operations, other dogs need to donate

When dogs have surgery and other complicated medical procedures, they need blood transfusions. And if dogs need transfusions, that means other dogs need to donate. 

UK-based charity, The Pet Blood Bank, was promoting its work ahead of World Blood Donor Day last Wednesday.

Charity says every unit of blood donated by dogs can save up to four others The BBC took their cameras inside one of the charity's centres in Woodley, Berkshire, to find out exactly what is involved. Source: Facebook/BBCSouthToday

Pet Blood Bank UK is the only charity that provides a canine blood bank service

Launched in 2007, Pet Blood Bank UK is the only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for all veterinary practitioners across the UK. As part of their charitable remit, their aim is to advance animal health and welfare and to relieve suffering by providing quick and convenient access to blood.

Similar to the human blood service, dog owners kindly bring along their much loved canine companions to give blood at one of their many sessions across the country. The blood is then taken to their processing centre in Loughborough where it is separated into red blood cells and plasma products, and then stored ready for despatch.

Source: petbloodbankuk.org

Dexter looking dapper in his red bandana. At the end of donation, the dog is given a toy, water and a snack and time to relax, as well as a red bandana to show that it has given blood.
Dexter has donated 5 times so far! Dexter looking dapper in his red bandana. At the end of donation, the dog is given a toy, water and a snack and time to relax, as well as a red bandana to show that it has given blood. Source: Facebook/PetBloodBank

Dogs need to meet certain criteria, established in a screening process

Pet Blood Bank UK is a national canine blood bank service. The first and only UK charity of its kind, it has been operating for ten years and has over 8,000 dogs on its books. On average it stages three blood donation sessions at veterinary surgeries weekly. Up to 22 dogs donate at each session.

To do so they need to meet certain criteria, established in a screening process. Dogs must be in good health and have normal temperature, heart rate and respiration. Dogs are weighed to check they are at least 25kg while owners must confirm the dog has not been abroad, among other requirements. 

As with humans, a small blood sample is taken to ensure the dog can donate. This can be drawn from the dog’s cephalic vein in its leg or from the jugular vein from which the donation will be taken. Clipping of the fur prior to needle insertion is standard procedure, but if a vein can be located without clipping the donation can still proceed. 

The sample is checked for total solids and red blood cells. Once the dog is cleared to donate, it and its owners go into the surgery’s donation room where the dog is lifted onto the operating table and laid on its preferred side. When comfortable and calm, the vet or phlebotomist inserts a needle into the jugular vein and around 450ml of blood is collected over five to 10 minutes, the dog receiving assurance and praise throughout. 

"It is not a painful procedure which is confirmed by lots of our repeat donors – many of whom have donated for a few years – bounding through the session doors to see us with their tails wagging," says Pet Blood Bank veterinary supervisor Jenny Walton. She adds that if at any time a dog shows signs of stress the donation stops. 

At the end of donation, the dog is given a toy, water and a snack and time to relax, as well as a red bandana to show that it has given blood.

The sealed bag of blood is taken to the charity’s centre in Loughborough, Leicestershire, for processing, which involves spinning the bag to separate its plasma and red blood cells. Both are then stored until needed by a vet – the plasma is frozen for up to five years and the red blood cells are refrigerated for up to six weeks.

Source & Main Image: BBC

Make an Impact

You can help save a dog's life by registering your pet as a potential blood donor today!

Every day dogs just like yours need blood transfusions. For many procedures a transfusion is a clinical necessity, without dog blood donors, veterinary surgeons could not undertake important and often life-saving operations. (for UK residents only)