- Why do we need canine blood donors?
- Can my dog donate blood?
- How is the blood collected?
- What is provided for canine blood donors?
- How do I enroll my dog or find out more information?
Why do we need canine blood donors?
Just like people, dogs have diseases or injuries that require blood transfusions. Many of our canine patients receive transfusions, and dogs enrolled in the UFVH Canine Blood Donor Program provide the blood products for them. The demand for blood products for our patients increases every year. We need volunteer blood donors to insure that every patient in need can be treated.
Please help us save lives by enrolling your canine companion in the UFVH Canine Blood Donor Program. One unit of blood can treat 2 to 4 patients.
Can my dog donate blood?
The health and welfare of our canine blood donors is our most important concern. A unit of canine blood is equivalent to the pint donated by people. We enroll healthy dogs between 1 to 5 years of age, and our canine donors retire at 8 years old. One of the most important qualities of a canine blood donor is a calm, friendly temperament, and willingness to be gently restrained on their side for approximately 8 to 10 minutes during preparation and collection of blood. Dogs weighing at least 40 pounds can safely donate a half pint of blood every 4 to 6 weeks, and dogs weighing over 50 pounds can donate a pint of blood every 8 weeks.
Prior to enrollment in the Canine Blood Donor Program, your dog will receive a physical examination and blood tests to be sure that they can safely donate blood. To insure the safety of the blood supply, each donor is screened for blood-borne infectious agents that could be transmitted to patients by a transfusion.
Just like people, dogs have several blood types, including a universal blood type. We determine the blood type of our donors so that their blood products can be better matched to the patient’s need.
Due to our substantial investment in the blood donors as well as the increasing demand for blood by our patients, we request that your dog participate in the Canine Blood Donor Program for at least 2 years and be available for regular donations every other month.
How is the blood collected?
The unit of blood is collected from the jugular vein in the neck since this is the most accessible and least sensitive site for venipuncture in the dog. At the time of donation, a small area over this site is shaved and cleaned prior to venipuncture. We use the same blood collection setup as that used for human blood donors. Instead of sitting in a chair, the dog should be able to lie quietly on a table for 10 minutes during the collection process. We do not sedate dogs for blood donation. The dog is praised and petted during the collection to provide comfort and positive feedback.
After collection, a temporary light bandage is placed around the venipuncture site similar to the bandaid placed on the arm of human blood donors. This bandage can be removed at home after a few hours. In place of orange juice, the dog is rewarded with canine cookies and a small amount of canned food. Best of all, the dog can select a favorite toy from our toy box to take home with them.
Similar to human blood banking, the unit of canine blood is separated into red blood cells and plasma. This processing allows one unit of blood to provide red blood cells and plasma for 2 to 4 patients.
What is provided for canine blood donors?
Annual health screening consisting of physical examination, appropriate vaccinations, blood tests such as a complete blood cell count, serum chemistry, and heartworm test, and a stool examination for intestinal parasites.
For protection of the donor and the blood supply, we provide monthly preventatives for heartworms, fleas, and tick-borne infectious diseases.
A bag of Purina, Hill’s or Royal Canin dog food and high quality treats are provided with each donation.
If your dog should become a patient in need of blood, the Blood Donor Program will provide a unit of red blood cells and plasma for every unit of blood donated by the dog.
How do I enroll my dog or find out more information?
Please contact Camille Kelly at (352) 294-4647 or BloodBankSAH@vetmed.ufl.edu.
The clinicians, staff, and veterinary students at the University of Florida Veterinary Hospitals are dedicated to the health and welfare of our companion pets. You and your dog can play a critical role in our mission by participation in the Canine Blood Donor Program.