Many people understand the life saving potential of human blood donation. However, fewer people are aware that Fluffy and Fido can donate blood too! Like humans, cats and dogs may require blood transfusions for certain conditions. Pets with traumatic injuries, internal bleeding, poisonings, and immune mediated disease may require blood products to stabilize their condition prior to further treatment.
Like human blood banks, veterinary blood banks rely on the altruistic participation of the pets in their communities, and there are some specific requirements placed upon pet donors. Donors must be in good temperament and health, and able to fulfill certain requirements for inclusion into a blood donor program. Typically, blood donors have to be between 1-8 years old, up to date on vaccinations and preventatives, and without a history of significant disease or pregnancy.
Blood donors also undergo a thorough physical prior to each donation. Additionally, donors are screened for infectious disease regularly to ensure the safety of blood transfusion recipients. Typically, cats and dogs can donate blood every 2 months. Feline donors often require mild sedation for donation due to their size, but most dogs will happily lay still for the collection process without sedation. Collection time generally takes 10 minutes or less. Instead of the orange juice and cookies most people are used to receiving after blood donation, veterinary blood donors are offered treats and a small meal following donation!
With advances in veterinary medicine, the need for blood products has never been greater. Blood donations have lasting impacts on blood donors and recipients alike, and owners can feel proud knowing that their donor pet is truly a lifesaver! If veterinary blood donation is of interest to you, please reach out to your nearest blood bank to find out how to add your pet to the list of blood donor heroes!