Hundreds of dogs need blood transfusions every day. Certain diseases and emergency situations require urgent blood transfusion in dogs. Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of dog blood all over the world. The small number of blood donors and the short shelf-life of dog blood (30 to 35 days) contribute to this problem. The good news is that there are many dog blood donation programs that help dogs-in-need receive the blood they require. If you wish to let your dog participate in these programs, here are a few essential things you must know about dog blood donation.
Dog Blood Donation Requirements
To donate blood to another dog, your pet will need to meet certain requirements. Not all dogs are eligible for dog blood donation no matter how healthy they are. Different pet blood banks have set special criteria for their own programs. If you wish to have your dog participate in dog blood donation drives or let him donate blood for a doggie friend, check if your pet meets the following requirements.
The ideal dog blood donor must weigh at least 50 pounds but not more than 150 pounds.
A potential dog blood donor should be between 1 to 7 years old. This age was set among veterinary groups because younger dog’s bodies are too fragile to handle blood loss. Meanwhile, dogs older than 7 often experience changes in their bodily functions and chemicals, and this can affect the health of the recipient dog.
Some dog blood donation groups or blood banks do not allow English Bulldogs and Chow Chows to donate blood. English Bulldogs are brachycephalic dogs. The shape of their heads also makes it hard for them to breathe and re-oxygenate their blood, especially if they’re going to be held and restrained during the donation process. On the other hand, Chow Chows have pigmented mucus membranes, which make their blood difficult to assess.
Potential dog donors should be easy-going, stable, calm, and obedient. He should be able to lie on his side calmly when need.
Dog donors must be in good health. They must be regularly receiving preventatives for parasites such as heartworm, protozoa, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, fleas, and ticks. The dogs must also be free from heart murmurs, epilepsy, ehrlichiosis, babesia, anaplasma, heartworm disease, brucellosis, and diseases that can be transmitted via blood transfusion. Dogs who have been recently ill or underwent surgery should not be allowed to donate blood.
Being on medication makes a dog ineligible for dog blood donation. He may be considered for dog blood donation 14 days after his last medication intake.
Dog donors must be updated on vaccines for distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus 2, parainfluenza, hepatitis, and rabies. If your dog has been recently vaccinated, he will need a 4-week resting period before he is allowed to donate.
There are about 12 blood types identified in dogs. And like in humans, the dog donor and the recipient must be typed prior the transfusion. However, the dog blood type Dog Erythrocyte Antigen 1.1 (DEA 1.1) can cause severe and adverse reactions in dogs that are not matched appropriately. For this reason, only DEA 1.1 negative dogs (those who lack the type) will be accepted as donors.
Dog Blood Donation: How the Procedure is Done
Once your dog has been screened and accepted as a blood donor, he can start donating blood and save other dogs! Dog blood donation typically lasts for 20 to 30 minutes, but the actual process of gathering blood from the doggie donor only lasts for 10 minutes. Do note that a doggie donor needs to fast for 10 to 12 hours before donating.
First, the dog donor’s pulse is checked to watch out for any signs of distress. If the doggie donor’s coat is thick or long, a spot on the neck may be shaved to allow easier access to the vein. Then, a sterile needle is inserted into the jugular vein in the neck to obtain about 450 ml of blood. When enough blood is withdrawn, the needle is taken out of the vein and a bandage is applied to the site to allow proper clotting.
After the session, the dog donor is given water or IV fluids to help replenish the volume of withdrawn blood. The doggie donor is often given lots of treats and toys as rewards for being a doggie hero.
Sedation or anesthesia is not usually needed for dog blood donation. A dog can donate every 30 to 60 days depending on his weight and health status.
Benefits of Dog Blood Donation
Aside from the fulfillment and happiness brought the idea that your pet can save lives, there are other benefits that come with dog blood donation.
Depending on the clinic or pet blood bank, some dog donors receive hospital benefits that entitle them to free veterinary consultation, free blood testing, laboratory testing credits, gift certificates from pet stores, and even food vouchers from some restaurants.
So, will you let your dog donate blood?