Giving blood has always been a common way for people to help others in times of disaster. Did you know your pet can help too?
When your pet donates to a pet blood bank, she’ll help treat animals in desperate need of blood, like accident victims or pets with parvo, who need transfusions to live.
“I encourage pet parents to consider enrolling their pets in blood donor programs,” says Dr. Christopher Byers, an emergency veterinarian in Omaha, Nebraska. “Sadly, just as in human transfusion medicine, veterinarians often are faced with blood product shortages too.”
The Right Type
Cats can have only cat blood, and dogs can have only dog blood — but it must also be the right type of blood, just as it is with humans.
There are eight canine blood types, so your pup’s blood will come in handy whatever its type. Cats have type A or B blood. Most are type A, so if your kitty is type B, your local pet blood bank will be grateful for a donation.
“We’re constantly on the lookout for new donors,” says Marianne Schultz, who runs the St. Louis Animal Blood Bank in Kirkwood. “There is such a demand for blood.”
Determine Whether Your Pet Is a Good Donor
If you think your pet will try to maul the veterinary staff, he is not a good candidate. The procedure will take about a half hour, during which time your pet must remain flat on a table.
As you can imagine, few cats will stand for this sort of thing — and only very patient and obedient dogs.
If you think your pet might put up with this indignity, take him to the vet for a health checkup and a blood test to make sure she doesn’t have any blood-borne diseases. One of the benefits of donating is that you’ll be forced to do this annually, a great benefit for your pet’s overall health.
Although cats of any size can donate, veterinarians recommend that dogs be 50 pounds or larger.
What to Expect When Your Pet Donates Blood
When you take your pet in to donate blood, expect the procedure to take about a half hour. Dogs usually don’t struggle much, but your cat may need to be sedated.
After the vet tech places a needle into the draw site, usually a large vein in the neck, he or she will begin to take the blood. A typical donation is 15.3 ounces of plasma.
The procedure itself is safe and painless, and you don’t have to fast your pet before her donation. Depending on your pet’s size and general health, she can donate up to four times a year.
The following video shows the process of a dog giving blood at a veterinary hospital:
Finding a Pet Blood Bank
Ask your veterinarian or call your emergency vet to see if they accept blood donations. If not, they should be able to refer you to another vet who can help.