blood donor program: FAQs
What is a canine blood donor?
A canine blood donor is a dog that has been screened and approved to give blood to be used as a life saving measure for another animal in the event of an emergency. At BEVS, we carefully store the blood until it is needed for patients in crisis, such as anemia and blood loss due to trauma.
How much blood do you take?
We obtain about 450 ml (just under two cups) of your dog’s blood at each donation. This is a safe amount for dogs that meet our donor requirements.
Will the donation process hurt my dog?
We use a needle just a little bigger than the one used to draw blood for regular screenings at your primary care veterinarian. Most dogs tolerate this quite well, and we strive to make each dog feel as comfortable as possible with treats and lots of love.
How long does a donation take?
The donation itself takes about 10-15 minutes. We set aside an hour appointment for each donation to review current health information and set up for the procedure. This also gives us time to observe your dog afterward for a short time, and of course, receive plenty of praise and treats!
What can I expect at the donation?
Our certified veterinary technicians handle the blood donation process. A small square on your dog’s neck is shaved and scrubbed for sterility. With your dog lying calmly on its side, one unit (less than 2 cups) of blood is drawn. Throughout the donation process, our staff will calmly comfort your dog. We replace the amount of blood we draw by administrating the same amount of electrolyte-balanced fluids under the skin. After the donation, your dog will receive a complimentary nail trim, lots of treats, and a small meal before going home to rest. The donation takes 10 to 15 minutes, but with preparation and post-donation observation, you can expect your dog to be with us for about an hour.
How often can my dog donate?
While your dog can safely donate every six weeks, we will only ask for a commitment of 4-5 donations per year.
Do dogs have different blood types than people?
Yes, dogs have several different blood types. Their blood groups are called DEA groups (dog erythrocyte antigen) based on the types of proteins on their red blood cells. The most important blood type is DEA 1.1. A potential canine donor should be negative for DEA 1.1 (about 50% of dogs are).
What are the benefits to enrolling my dog as a donor?
Donor dogs get free health screenings by our board-certified internist, free annual blood screenings (which includes an extended infectious disease panel, urinalysis and fecal exam, and blood typing), treats, snuggles, and bragging rights! These dogs are heroes! Additional benefits will be discussed at the first screening appointment or click here to learn more.
How will my dog act after a blood donation?
Most dogs are not affected by donating blood. Unlike humans, dogs have a mobile reservoir of red blood cells in their spleen and can replace 1/3 of the donated blood immediately. They will regenerate the rest of the blood cells within a couple of days. Occasionally dogs will be tired after the donation but most are ready to eat, play, and exercise as soon as they get home.