A blood transfusion may save the life of a dog that has lost blood due to accident, injury or during surgery. This life-saving blood is donated by healthy pets whose owners wish to help other pets in their time of need.
How do you know if your own dog might be a good blood donor candidate? Your dog must be healthy, not on any medications, and free of any major diseases. Dogs that are calm, friendly and able to sit quietly while the blood is being drawn are the best candidates. Although requirements vary by program, typically, the donor dog should be at least 50 pounds and at least one year old. Additionally, because of the time and expense of the initial screening process, which is free to the donor, most programs look for a dog that is able to donate on a regular basis. Dogs must also have a “universal” blood type, which is true of about 40-45% of all dogs.
The donation process usually takes less than 30 minutes, and the blood is taken from the jugular vein (in the neck). Anesthesia is not required for dogs donating blood. While cats may also donate blood, they must be sedated for the procedure. Many programs reward the donor dogs with treats and toys after donation.
If you would like your own dog become a lifesaver for other dogs, you can contact your vet to find pet blood-donor programs in your area.