Read on to learn more about the process of animal blood donation.
Sign up and your furry friend could help save the lives of countless other dogs just like them!
Why may a dog need a blood transfusion?
Blood transfusions are carried out to treat the symptoms of anaemia caused by disease, toxicity or trauma. The goal is to replace the lost red blood cells so that more oxygen can be carried and transported around the body and to vital organs.
Not all cases of anaemia are serious enough to need a blood transfusion. Cases where blood transfusions are required tend to be acute situations such as blood loss or diseases like acute hemolysis, but they can be used in ongoing conditions such as immune mediated haemolytic anaemia.
How does it work?
We ask that you fill in the attached questionnaire to establish whether your dog is a suitable candidate for donation – this means answering questions like “has your pet ever been abroad?” and “is your dog over 25 kilograms in weight?”. Once we know they meet the prerequisites, we will invite you to bring them in to see the vet for a free full health check, and so that we can take a blood sample.
Like us, dogs have different blood types and we test for Positive and Negative, so that we can make sure that the dog receiving the donation gets the right type at the right point in treatment. We then keep this on your pet’s record.
Once these steps have been completed, your dog is on the donor list!
When we have a patient that needs a blood transfusion, we will contact you and ask you to bring your dog in to give a donation.
Before they donate, we will carry out another free full health check and we will take a blood sample to make sure they have a high enough red blood cell count.
If everything is found to be okay we will begin the blood transfusion. A small area of fur will be clipped on their neck in order for the vet to easily locate a vein. A local anaesthetic is applied to the area and then we will use a small needle to collect around 450ml of blood.
The process should be painless and our nurses will be on hand to hold and comfort your dog throughout, as well as for treats and lots of cuddles afterwards. Once we have collected the blood it will be taken and transfused into the patient in need.
What does it involve for me and my pet?
Blood donations can be required at anytime and we are unable to store blood samples for long periods of time. To store blood samples to keep them on hand would make the transfusion process very expensive overall, and would mean that we are not able to use this treatment method in as many cases as we would like.
We prefer the alternative of using fresh donations, as it makes the treatment more accessible.
You will be contacted when a donation is needed for immediate use on a patient, so that you can bring your dog to the practice. The sample will then be taken and transfused into the patient that same day. Because the need for a blood transfusion is usually fairly urgent and unexpected, we ask that you are regularly available be at the practice within a reasonable amount of time.
We hope to build up a selection of potential donors so that if you unable to make it to us for any reason, another dog will be there to help. Your dog must reach certain criteria to ensure that it is safe for your pet to give blood without putting their own health at risk.
Dogs can donate up to 6 times per year, but cases are rare and with several dogs on our register actual donations should be far less frequent.
What are the requirements for me and my pet?
Your dog must reach the following criteria:
- Be fit and healthy
- Be between one and five years old
- Weigh more than 25kg
- Have a good temperament
- Have never travelled abroad
- Be fully vaccinated
- Not be on any medication
- Have never received a blood donation before
Is there anything I can do to prepare my dog for donation?
Any new experiences can be nerve-racking for dogs. Luckily there are a few things you can do to prepare your pet for blood donation.
1 – Get them used to visiting us.
We love getting visits from your furry friends any time, not just when they have an appointment.
Bringing them into us frequently for a fuss and a treat will reinforce that the vets is a positive place and will help reduce nerves and stress when they come in to donate.
2 – Familiarise them with the clippers.
The noise and sensation of fur clippers can upset dogs if they have never encountered them before. If you have clippers at home, try to start to train your dog with them.
Training is best carried out in small, frequent sessions. Daily, at first, if possible. Try turning the clippers on in your dog’s presence to see how they react. Do this several times on consecutive days to ensure they are comfortable.
Once your dog is no longer reacting to the sound, with the clippers off and a cover over the blades, try to move the clippers around their legs and neck. Let your dog investigate the clippers and realise there is nothing to fear.
Once they are happy with this, turn the clippers on, again with a cover on the blades, while you are sitting close to them. If they react, do not touch them with the clippers and repeat this stage.
Once there is no reaction you can touch them with the clippers whilst they are on (with a cover on so no fur is clipped).
3 – Practice holding and lifting.
Dogs can sometime be wary of being held for blood tests and having their legs touched.
Familiarising your dog with these techniques can help them to feel at ease during the donation.
Similarly to the clippers, training should be carried out in short, frequent sessions and start gently. Start with soft touching of the feet and legs with the use of treats and praise.
Once they are comfortable with this you can try to lift and hold them as if they were having blood taken. Slowly increase the length of time your dog is held for and always praise them afterwards.
Speak to one of our nurses for advice on how your dog may be held.
What if I am interested but have further questions?
Please give us a call!
Our team is on hand to give you as much information as you would like about the donation process.
Our number is 01435 864 422.
How do I sign up?
Fill in the form below and return it to us in order to sign up and begin the registration process.
You can return it in person to one of our reception team or you can email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of staff will get in touch with you as to when would be a good time to arrange your assessment appointment.