Most people think about donating blood but they probably don't think of their dogs (and sometimes cats) as potential blood donors for other pets in need of a transfusion.
I was well aware of this, especially when writing "The Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Book of Wellness and Preventive Care for Dogs," where I included information about blood donations at Angell. Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston isn't the only facility where this is done. I would venture to guess that there are blood banks at major veterinary hospitals throughout the United States and probably in other countries as well.
What brought this topic to mind was a press release I received today from UC Davis (California). They have a wonderful veterinary school and major veterinary medical center on campus. Currently they have a need for Dog Blood Donors for their new UC Davis Veterinary Blood Bank.
"Because we need dogs with a specific blood type, we plan to screen approximately 1,200 dogs each year in order to establish and maintain the necessary pool of 200 to 400 regular donors," said Dr. Sean Owens, the blood bank's medical director and head of the Transfusion Medicine
Service at UC Davis' William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
Regular donors usually only donate four or five times a year although they could easily donate monthly with no adverse effects.
Donor dogs are screened to see if they meet the criteria. UC Davis also requires that they be from one to eight years of age, weigh at least fifty-five pounds and be current on flea, tick and heartworm preventative medications, never been pregnant and, of course, never had puppies. Their owners must live within 100 miles of UC Davis.
Pet owners interested in having their dog screened for donation may obtain more information or set up an appointment by calling the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at (530) 752-1393 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you live elsewhere and are interested in having your four-legged companion become a blood donor, I'd suggest you check with your nearest veterinary medical school hospital or major veterinary teaching hospital to see if they maintain a bloodbank and ask for a screening.
It's an easy way for your and your pet to help others.