Unleash The Hero In Your Dog By Donating Canine Blood
Its summer and along with the usual ads for barbecues and lawn furniture comes the annual public appeal for blood donors. It seems we silly humans are up to no good in the summer and serious accidents mean a spike in the need for all blood types.
But humans aren’t the only ones who run into troubles and accidents aren’t the only cause for a national appeal for blood donors. Every day hundreds of animals are in desperate need of blood transfusions and the mad scramble to locate the correct blood type and transport it in time for emergency treatment is made by veterinarians throughout North America.
While we’re all familiar with the Red Cross, most of us have never stopped to consider where the blood actually comes from when it’s our pet laying in surgery, fighting for his life. The truth is it’s from other dogs through pet parents who want to help out. In fact, there is an ongoing and often crucial need for donors in veterinary medicine.
You see similar to human blood types, there are five major canine blood types, and one is a universal donor, like our “O negative.” When veterinarians purchase blood from a bank, they get the universal blood type, which can be used once on almost any animal without much chance of side effects or adverse reactions. However, if an animal needs multiple transfusions, the chance of a reaction goes up considerably each time.
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And with the growing demand for surgery and the increased use of transfusion therapy to treat many diseases, the need for blood bank programs has never been more crucial.
So how do you know if your pooch is up to donating? While requirements for blood donors vary from state to state and province to province, there are some common denominators: healthy (including a healthy heart), a non-hyper disposition, between one and seven years old, up-to-date with his vaccinations and free of parasites. He must also be free of any medications except for heartworm and/or flea prevention drugs. If your little buddy meets these requirements, blood will be drawn and sent out to a lab to test for infectious diseases.
This health screening process is not inexpensive and for that reason clinics are typically looking for pet parents willing to bring their dogs in on a regular and scheduled basis. This could be every six to eight weeks or up to every three or four months. Some may ask you to commit for a minimum of one to three years where others may leave that to your discretion. There may also ask that you be available, on call, for emergency donations. If that’s the case, you should know that dogs can safely donate blood as often as every three to four weeks so your pet’s health is never at risk.
The actual process is similar to when a blood sample is drawn, but takes about 30 minutes. Blood is taken from his jugular vein and while it doesn’t require anaesthetic or hinder his normal activities a little R&R that day would not be amiss. There may also be some tenderness where the blood was taken, so lose the collar and opt for a harness or carry your little tyke back to the car for the ride home. And know your pet – if he is timid, afraid of doctors and doesn’t do well during routine blood work, this isn’t for him.
Where can you donate? In North America, most Universities that offer a Veterinary Medicine program will also operate dog blood donor clinics. You can also ask your vet for a referral or check out some of the following resources:
Canadian Animal Blood Bank: Can provide you with blood donor clinics in your area
Animal Blood Resources International: With locations in California and Michigan, ABRI ships both nationally and internationally.
The Veterinarians’ Blood Bank, Inc.: Located in Vallonia, Indiana and works to supply canine blood.
Agate Bay Animal Hospital Blood Bank: Located in Tahoe Vista, CA.
Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank: Located in Purcellville, VA
Hemopet: Located in Garden Grove, CA.
HemoSolutions: Located in Colorado Springs, CO, see website for upcoming blood donation events.
Lifestream Animal Blood Bank: Distribution Service in the GTA, ON for Canine Blood Products.
North Carolina State University Small Animal Blood Bank: Your dog will receive an in-depth comprehensive health screening and annual vaccinations at no charge.
Oakland Veterinary Referral Services: Located in Bloomfield Hills, MI, see website for upcoming blood donation events.
Sun States Animal Blood Bank: An all-volunteer blood bank that is actively looking for donors.
University of Guelph: Includes such goodies as a free bag of dog food, nail trim and treats!
Mary Simpson is a writer and communications professional from Port Credit, Ontario. A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include orange tabby Chico, tuxedo Simon, and jet black Owen. She enjoys running, politics, exploring the wine regions of Niagara and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.
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