Much like the case with human blood donations, dog blood donors are in great demand. The similarities do not end there, however. As with human blood banks, dogs are screened for blood borne diseases, certain types of blood are needed, hundreds of dogs need blood transfusions every day, and there never seems to be enough blood to go around. The similarities stop there, though, as there are not a lot of national animal blood banks in the country, and this forces many clinics to depend on large emergency hospitals when they need blood. Getting dog blood donors is a tricky process, as animal blood banks cannot do the same thing as Red Cross does, meaning they cannot simply set up at a recreation center and entice potential donors with juice boxes. Attempting this would be a mess for everyone involved.
Is your dog able to donate?
If you want your dog to become a donor and save the lives of other people's pets, talk to your vet, as requirements vary from state to state. Is your dog the right size to donate blood? They cannot be too big or too small. The second step is to have the dog undergo routine exams. The third requirement is a calm demeanor, so that the humans collecting blood do not find themselves on the wrong end of an aggressive canine. Finally, the dog needs to have the universal blood type.
The donation process
The actual process of having a dog give blood is quite simple. First, the dog goes through a quick check up to ensure everything looks normal. Then, the dog is coaxed onto the table with treats. A "dog holder" then cuddles with the pet to keep them relaxed and happy. After shaving and cleaning the area around the jugular, a small needle is inserted into its vein, and a few minutes later, a pint of blood is bagged and ready for use. The whole process takes between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on the clinic.
While making sure the dogs are all properly tested and fit to donate is the most important thing, another top priority ensuring the donor dogs are treated with love, respect and positive attention. They are saving lives, after all.
Regular donors are needed
Having a regular list of donors is important for veterinarians, because the shelf life of dog blood is only 30 to 35 days. Some clinics do not keep the blood on hand for this reason and instead, when a need arises, they call up owners who have signed their dog up to be a donor. Others rely on blood banks when they need blood for a transfusion.
Where can you donate?
If you and your dog are interested in donating, contact your vet, a local veterinary school or an emergency animal clinic. They will tell you how to begin the process of ensuring your dog is fit to donate and give further information on where to go to give blood.