Could your dog be a blood donor?

by Leanne Thompson on May 21, 2009

The UK has its first dogs mobile blood bank and it is searching for doggie donors to help relieve the shortage of dog blood.

To donate blood takes less than eight minutes but dog owners are requested to allow half an hour in order that their dog can have a check up afterwards.  As with humans, dogs give one pint of blood.  After they’ve given blood, dogs receive dinner and a goodie bag complete with dog toys as a thank you.

The mobile trailer is fitted with weighing scales, a waiting room with television (for the owners, not necessarily the dogs) and a hydraulic table for giving blood.

Dog’s blood is in different types in the same way as human blood and can be held for up to five weeks.

Veterinary supervisor for the charity, Jenny Watson, pictured here with Webster the lurcher at a donor session in March this year, said:

“We are completely reliant on owners who bring their dogs to donate at local blood donation sessions and of course the veterinary practices who kindly provide the premises for these sessions to take place.”

Of course now the charity has a mobile blood bank too. This new mobile blood bank for dogs comes from UK charity, Pet Blood Bank UK, which was set up in March 2007 as the first charity to collect, process and store pet blood.  The mobile unit was paid for by pet food company Royal Canin.  The charity is now looking for more dog donors and will be visiting various veterinary schools nationwide to help its promotion.

This week, it was already visited the vet school at the University of Nottingham, close to the charity’s headquarters in Loughborough.

Wendy Barnett, executive director of Pet Blood Bank UK, said:

“We have always had a shortage of donors so it is exactly the same as it is for humans. As soon as the blood comes in, it is straight out again.  Hundreds of lives are being saved each year. Vets contact us, even when our stocks are running low and we put on additional donating sessions.  It’s the same as if you went into hospital, you would expect the blood to be there. We are aiming to ensure it’s the same for our pets.”

The charity is piloting a blood donor scheme for cats too, where the nurses will visit the homes as it is much more difficult to placate a cat whilst donating blood.

This Saturday 23rd May, dog owners will be able to visit the University of Nottingham veterinary school at Sutton Bonington between the hours of 10am and 4pm if they would like their dog to donate blood. Dogs must be between one and eight years old, weigh over 25 kg, should be fit, healthy, have up to date vaccinations and not have been abroad.

It is certainly an important cause; there could be little worse than losing the life of your dog simply because there was no blood available.

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