Yesterday was World Blood Donor day, celebrating and remembering those who have given blood to save others. It’s important to remember that dogs too can be blood donors, and there is a continual need to find new blood donors to help other dogs.
I’m reminded of a story very close to home for me: my own dog Finzi. I found her beside the road, collapsed and in serious trouble. She had been dumped, and she had a massive worm burden, causing severe bloody diarrhoea. Her gums were as white as a sheet of copying paper. She was dying. You can see the state of her in the photo above. Her chances of survival were bleak.
It was a Sunday afternoon, but as it happened, there was a blood donation in the fridge at my vet clinic. It had been taken for another ill patient but had not been needed. So I was able to use it, immediately, for Finzi. This saved her life: within hours of receiving the blood, she perked up, and by the following morning, she was strong enough to go for a short walk, and her appetite had returned. She has never looked back.
This coming Saturday, it’s time for Finzi to say “thank you” in her own way. She is scheduled to make a donation of blood: her donation will be kept in the fridge and used for another dog in a similar situation as herself. She won’t know that she is helping, but for the minor inconvenience and any slight discomfort, she will be given heaps of praise, a few treats, and she’ll have a full biochemical and haematological profile carried out on her sample, which is a useful part of preventive health care for her.
She’s a happy dog, all thanks to that blood transfusion eight years ago.
UPDATE AND EDIT: These days, there are far stricter criteria about which animals can be used to give blood donations compared to in the past: in fact, Finzi cannot give blood, as she has received a donation in the past herself. I will be asking one of Finzi’s friends to take her place on Saturday. See at the foot of this blog post for updated criteria for dogs being considered for making blood donations.
Do you have a big, healthy, good-natured dog? Would you consider using them for a blood transfusion? If so, contact your local vet clinic and ask to be put on the blood donors list.
Petfix Club has shared another real life story about a dog who was a blood donor: you can read it here.
Typical Blood Donation Protocol in 2021
1. Blood donor criteria
Canine blood donors should meet the following criteria:
• Aged 1 – 8 years (1 – 6 years giant breed)
• Weigh a minimum of 25kg
• Fit and well, fully vaccinated and not receiving any medication
• Never have travelled outside of the UK and Ireland
• Never received a transfusion or blood product
• Never had puppies and is not pregnant
• Have a good temperament (ideally no sedation is used for blood donations)
• Ideally be DEA 1.1 –ve (universal donor)
2. Preparation for Donation
• Please check donor PCV PRIOR to donation to ensure adequate before collecting a donation
• Fast donor prior to donation to avoid lipaemia (fatty blood), which will shorten the lifespan of the blood
• The donor dog should ideally be DEA 1.1 negative (universal donor) but DEA1.1 positive dogs can also donate.