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Can Your Dog Be a Blood Donor Dog?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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There are several community volunteer-based animal blood banks scattered across the United States. If you are interested in more information on blood banks in your area, see our list of animal blood banks or ask your veterinarian for information about the blood bank nearest to your location. Some blood banks recruit both dog and cat donors, however most are dog-only blood banks.

If there are no animal blood banks in your area, you could discuss having your pet become an impromptu donor that could be available as needed. Your veterinarian or local emergency clinic may benefit from a list of donor pets in the community that are healthy and meet the qualifications to donate periodically when a pet requires an emergency transfusion.

There are several common requirements for donor dogs. In general, the dogs need to be large, healthy and young with a good, non-aggressive personality. No sedatives or anesthesia is required for dogs to donate. Donations take about 15 to 30 minutes. Cats are required to also be young, healthy and at least 10 pounds in weight, however they do require sedation for donation.

Most blood banks have some donor and membership requirements. In addition, many blood banks offer membership benefits. Below are examples of requirements and benefits from a nonprofit volunteer animal blood bank that recruits donors in the community (St. Louis Animal Blood Bank*):

Example of requirements for potential dog donors:

  • Must be between the ages of one to six years
  • Are of even temperament
  • Be of normal body weight over 50 pounds
  • General good health
  • Current on vaccinations, heartworm free and on heartworm preventative
  • Females must never have been pregnant and must be spayed
  • Not been a recipient of a blood transfusion

    Examples of membership requirements:

  • Able to bring pet in every 3 months over a course of 2 years
  • Make a total of 8 donations

    Example of membership benefits:

    For participation in the program, some benefits may include:

  • The satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to save lives
  • Free annual blood work, heartworm, and ehrlichia and Lyme tests
  • Free blood products for the life of the donor
  • Free blood products for housemates while donor is active in program
  • Emergency fee waived at The Animal Emergency Clinics and an additional 10% off total bill
  • 50% discount on office calls at one local specialist

    Please note that the individual benefits will differ with the organization.

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