Dog blood donors

We’ve all heard about the need for donating blood, but have you heard about blood donations for dogs?

Advances in veterinary medicine are fueling that need as many procedures for humans can now be used on our pets.

Blood transfusions are helping save their lives, too.

Oscar de la Blue is sniffing out life again after battling a dangerous dog virus that could have snuffed out his.

Oscar's owner, Jay kapp says, "There were a couple of days where he was just kind of a shell of a puppy."

Thanks to rescue greyhound and blood donor Sparkle, Oscar was given life-saving plasma and another chance to be a puppy.

sparkle's owner, Mary Beth Bartel says, "For every unit of blood that she gives, she will help at least two other dogs."

Sparkle donates once a month, and at 30 units so far has saved 60 lives. She's also on a 24 hour emergency call list.

Doctor Lee Herold calls dogs like Sparkle superheroes. "Animals that are bleeding or have problems being able to clot their blood, you know they really need those blood products, and they are life saving for those animals."

Dogs have seven blood types, about 40% are universal donors making them ideal candidates. Dogs also should be at least one year old, weigh 55 lbs and have a pleasant personality.

Canine blood donations take about ten minutes with little to no recovery time.

Cats can also donate to other cats, but unlike dogs, they must be sedated and usually live at the hospital in a donor habitat.


BACKGROUND: The practice of collecting blood, maintaining a blood bank, and making blood products available to veterinarians is a relatively new concept. Most opened for business within the past decade. Before there were animal blood banks, veterinarians had to use their own dogs, dogs owned by their staff, or dogs borrowed from their clients as blood donors. With the growing demand for more surgery and the increased use of transfusion therapy to treat many diseases, there is a great need for blood bank programs to supply life saving blood components whenever and wherever they are needed. (Source:

DONATING: General requirements for a dog to become a donor:

1) A dog must be healthy and up to date on all required vaccines, including a heartworm preventative.

2) Donors can have no history of serious disease, no history of receiving a blood transfusion, and they cannot be taking any medication (except a heartworm preventative.)

3) Donors must be friendly, obedient, even-tempered dogs.

4) The ideal volunteer canine blood donor is an easy-going, large breed dog who has the "universal donor" blood type. There are over a dozen blood types in dogs, but about 40% to 45% have a universal type.

Dog's system starts to replace the blood immediately after the donation. Blood volume will be back to normal in a day and the red blood cell count in 2 to 3 weeks. The collected blood is processed with the use of special equipment. It's separated into components, red blood cells and plasma, so one donation will actually help two dogs in need. (Source:

PET HEALTH INSURANCE: Pet insurance, like medical insurance for humans, can help reduce that risk of caring for a pet and lessen the frequency of "financial euthanasia," the decision to put a pet to sleep rather than incur a large debt attempting to heal. Pet insurance is common in many European countries. However, it remains rare in the U.S. There are about 130 million pet cats and dogs in the United States, but only a handful of pet owners (fewer than 300,000) take advantage of these policies.

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