They are your best friend. You know they have immense loyalty and love. Your dog is incredibly special. Here at our dog day care, we get attached to them too. But did you know that dogs can donate blood? That’s right, sick and injured dogs can need blood transfusions, just like humans. It’s only through a specialist canine blood bank that the lives of these animals can be saved. You’d want it done for your dog, so can your dog help save the lives of others?
Pet Blood Bank UK
The Pet Blood Bank UK is a national canine blood bank which runs as a charity that is accessible to all UK vets. They run donation sessions, much like the human equivalent, which collect the blood of healthy dogs to stock a ‘bank’ which is then accessible to sick or injured dogs in times of need.
Following donation, the blood collected is taken to Loughborough where Pet Blood Bank UK has a processing unit. Here they split the blood into plasma and red blood cells ensuring it is ready for supply to vets as needed, wherever they may be in the UK.
Pet Blood Bank UK was founded in 2007. There was a change in law at that time which made it then possible. It’s the only service of its type in the UK.
How to be a doggy blood donor
Much like the human equivalent, blood donation through Pet Blood Bank UK is voluntary. You need to choose to take your dog along to a special voluntary donation session.
In the same way that humans have different blood types, which need to be matched when transfusions are needed, so do our canine pals. Research is still underway in this area but predominantly the Pet Blood Bank look for the Dog Erythrocyte Antigen (DEA) marker. Dogs can be DEA1 positive or DEA1 negative.
Despite only around 30% of dogs being DEA1 negative, this is the type of blood which can be used in a transfusion for any dog. As you can imagine, it’s therefore particularly valuable to find out if your dog is DEA1 negative or positive.
Certain breeds are more likely to be DEA1 negative. These breeds include Greyhounds, German Shepherds, Airedale Terriers, Lurchers, English Pointers, Mastiffs, Dobermans, Boxers, Flat Coated Retrievers, Weimaraners and English Bull Terriers.
Can my dog donate blood?
Again, just like humans, a donor needs to be in good health and fit. They will spring back from blood donation quickly but the Pet Blood Bank UK requires that a donor dog is:
- Over 25kg in weight
- Aged between one and eight years old
- Fully vaccinated
- Not taking any medication
- Have never travelled overseas
- Have a well-mannered and good temperament
If your dog fits into these categories, here at The Wag Club doggy day care we are urging you to please consider donating blood. At doggy daycare, we all too often hear of heartbreaking tales which could have had a different outcome if blood was available.
What happens at a dog blood donation session?
Attending a blood donor session is much like a quick trip to the vets. In fact, the Pet Blood Bank UK have discovered that most pooches don’t even realise they are donating blood thanks to lots of TLC and attention as well as some local anaesthetic cream.
When you arrive at a donation session you will be greeted just like at the vets. You’ll have been given a specific appointment slot. The appointment slot is broken down into two parts.
Firstly, the Pet Blood Bank’s vet will do a quick health and suitability check. They’ll examine your dog and take their history. They will then clip and clean two very small areas on the dog’s neck and take a small sample to check suitability. They will microchip your dog at this point if they haven’t been microchipped yet.
Assuming all of this goes well, your dog will move on to the donation with the phlebotomist. They aim to collect around 450ml of blood from your dog.
Once the donation is complete, you’ll need to hang around on site for around 30 minutes, just to check all is well (and have a slurp of water and something to munch). During this time, your dog still gets a lot of fuss including being given a special donor’s goody bag.
Give the gift of blood
All in all, a donor session takes around 45 minutes, although less than 10 minutes of this is actually the time of having blood taken. It’s really worth it. Each individual unit of blood that a dog donates can save the lives of up to four dogs. Donor dogs really do become lifesavers.
To find out where the next closest session for dog blood donation is, use this session locator tool.
We really urge you to consider whether your special friend can donate to someone else’s and save the heartbreak. You and your dog won’t just go home with a goody bag of treats and a snazzy bandana, you’ll go home knowing that you made a difference to other dogs and their owners.