Can My Pet Donate Blood?

Did you know that pets belonging to veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary students are often blood donors? We know how life-saving a transfusion can be, and are happy to donate our pet’s time (and blood) to save another pet’s life.

Just like human patients, veterinary patients also require blood transfusions if they are anemic (from kidney failure, immune problems, cancer, or feline leukemia), have a clotting problem (from ingesting certain types of mouse or rat poison), have hemophilia, or have acute blood loss (from trauma, cancer, or internal bleeding).

If you live near a veterinary school or large veterinary specialty clinic, call to see if you can help out other pets by volunteering your pet’s blood. In exchange, your pet will help save a life, and you’ll be able to provide a way for your pet to earn his or her keep.

In exchange for a blood donation, your pet may receive free pet food, routine physical examinations, blood work monitoring, and potentially free heartworm preventative. Each blood donor candidate is screened for numerous infectious diseases, hemoglobin levels, and metabolic screens (which averages about $700 to $1000 per donor), so this is a great way of getting "free" routine screening for your pet! In exchange, you often have to commit to having your pet donate 4-6 times a year.

The perfect dog blood donor is:

  • Young to middle-aged (1 to 7 years of age)
  • Good natured (like greyhounds!)
  • More than 50 pounds (in lean body weight)
  • Healthy
  • Up to date on vaccines
  • Not on any medication (other than flea, tick, and heartworm preventative)
  • Never received a transfusion before

Most dogs don’t typically need to be sedated, as the process isn’t painful. Most dogs lie quietly on their side while getting lots of TLC, petting, and soothing during the 15- to 20-minute donation process.

The perfect cat blood donor is:

  • Between 2-7 years of age
  • Healthy
  • Current on vaccines
  • More than 10 pounds (in lean body weight!)
  • Not on any medications (other than heartworm, flea, and tick preventative)
  • Indoor only (and that includes all the companion housemate cats, too)
  • Feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) negative
  • Never been previously bred
  • Never been previously transfused

Unfortunately, because cats aren’t quite as laid back as dogs, they do need to be sedated for blood donation, no matter how good their veins are.

While these lists seems long, and there is the potential risk of sedation, see if your pet qualifies to help save another pet’s life. It’s a very rewarding feeling, and you’ll earn some canine or kitty karma for the future!

Dr. Justine Lee

Pic of the day: drip by ubon

Pug dog, dog getting a blood transfusion, dog blood donation, pet blood donation, blood cell count, saving pets

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