Did you know more than 1000 dogs need a blood transfusion every year? Did you know every blood donation a dog makes can save as many as four dogs' lives? The Pet Blood Bank UK is Britain's only canine blood bank charity, and they work with vets across the nation to improve animal health and welfare. Thanks to them, if your pooch is injured or ill and needs a transfusion, your vet can get the blood they need.
Just like human blood donors, there's a network of dog owners who bring their beloved dogs to give blood. Dogs can donate blood 3-4 times a year. Your dog won't realise what's going on, and they won't feel a thing since the vet applies a local anaesthetic cream first. Everyone concerned gives them lots of love and fuss, which means donor dogs end up genuinely enjoying the whole thing.
Can your dog donate blood?
If your pooch is under eight years old, healthy and fit, not on medication and weighs 25kg or more, they can give blood. It's also important they have a calm temperament and have had all their vaccinations. And they can't give blood if they've travelled abroad.
Dog blood donor sessions held at vets throughout the UK
Verts hold sesions all over Britain, and you can use the Pet Blood Bank UK blood session locator (http://www.petbloodbankuk.org/pet-owners/blood-session-locator)/ to find one near you.
How does the process work?
The 40 minute process has dog comfort and relaxation at it's heart, starting with a health and suitability check, where the vet examines them and takes their medical history. If all's well the vet will clip and clean a little area on your pet's neck, and microchip them if they haven't already been chipped. Then a specialist called a phlebotomist takes around 450ml of blood, taking 5-10 minutres.
Your doggie gets a tasty snack and a drink of fresh water afterwards, then you're OK to go home. He or she might feel a bit sleepy and want to rest for a while, but otherwise – just like us when we give blood - they'll be fine.
What happens to the blood?
The blood is taken straight to a special processing centre in Loughborough, Leicestershire, where it's separated into red blood cells and plasma before being stored ready for use.
About dog blood types
Dogs have different blood groups, like us, but when a dog only gets one blood transfusion in their life the type doesn't matter so much. This means any dog can donate blood to any other dog. Having said that, one particular dog blood type is crucial for every transfusion, once called Dog Group A and now called the DEA 1 blood group. The vet will establish your dog's blood group, if it isn't already on record, before taking blood.
It's always a good idea to know your dog's blood type, whether or not they are going to give blood, just in case they ever need an emergency transfusion themselves. Knowing beforehand saves valuable time, so can save their life.
Can you donate blood to save your dog?
Humans don't usually donate blood for animals. But back in 2014 new research revealed people can donate a blood serum protein called albumin. The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in Nashville gave human serum albumin to dogs with two particular health issues, inflammatory bowel disease and protein losing enteropathy. The transfusions turned out to be safe and surprisingly effective, with the same success rate as ordinary dog-to-dog transfusions.
Does your dog give blood?
Has your dog ever given blood? If so, how did it go? We'd love to know. Join us on Facebook www.facebook.com/poochandcompany, if you haven't already, and share your experiences.