If your pet has ever experienced a traumatic injury or severe illness, you know how frightening it can be when their health and life are at risk. Just as in humans, sometimes pets may need a blood transfusion in these scenarios. Our board-certified veterinarians and experienced technicians are committed to providing life-saving blood and blood products to patients in need and always having these resources on hand. That’s why we created our Blood Donor Program.
What is the Blood Donor Program?
At BEVS, our Blood Donor Program relies on the volunteered participation of owners of healthy dogs who are approved to donate blood regularly (Sorry, no cats at this time!). Building a blood bank enables us to provide blood transfusions to other pets experiencing a life-threatening emergency or a debilitating illness when they need it most.
Donor dogs (or heroes, as we call them!) are enrolled in our donor program for one year and donate blood four to five times within that year. After each blood donation, we carefully store the blood at BEVS until a patient in crisis needs it.
What Are the Canine Donor Requirements?
If your pet meets the following criteria, they may be eligible for the blood donor program:
- Current on all vaccinations
- Healthy adults weighing at least 55 lbs.
- Calm and friendly temperament
- Between 1 and 6 years old
- Not taking any medications (except flea/tick/heartworm preventive)
- Not on a raw diet
- Negative for all infectious diseases (blood screen performed at the first donor appointment)
- Pet parent is willing to commit to 1 year in the program (about four donations, plus one possible emergency donation)
Before dogs can become blood donors, we use a comprehensive screening process to ensure they are healthy enough to donate blood. The screening includes a free, comprehensive exam with our board-certified veterinary internist, a free infectious disease blood panel, a fecal exam, and blood typing. After that, healthy dogs may be accepted into the program and become blood donors.
What Are the Benefits of the Program?
Blood donors are our heroes, and as such, they are guaranteed a positive experience by our dedicated team of veterinary professionals. The donor appointment lasts an hour, although the blood draw only takes about 10-15 minutes. Of course, we will shower your dog with love and gentle attention (and lots of treats!) throughout this process.
Other benefits of the program include:
- A complimentary complete physical exam before each donation
- A complimentary blood screening, including a copy of all lab work for your records
- Free blood typing
- A free unit of blood, should your pet ever need one
- A highlight on social media
- Treats and toys
- Photo of donor attached to the unit of blood given to a recipient
- A $250 Blood Donor Reward certificate that can be used at BEVS for any future service (upon completion of 4 donations)
- A $150 yearly stipend to be used at your family veterinarian’s practice to ensure wellness care for your canine donor (upon completion of 4 donations)
- Lots of love and attention
- Hero status at our hospital!
What Happens During a Blood Donation?
Your dog will have a complimentary exam with one of our board-certified veterinary internists during the donation appointment. Once this exam is complete, our certified veterinary technicians will calmly comfort your dog as they shave a small square on your dog’s neck, clean and sterilize the site, and place a needle for the blood donation. With your dog resting on its side, we draw about 2 cups of blood (1 unit). After the donation is complete, we replace the amount of blood drawn with electrolyte fluids under the skin, give your dog a small, nutritious meal, and let them continue to rest comfortably. We will monitor them for any distress and give them lots of quiet attention, and then they will be ready to return home with you. Most dogs aren’t even tired after donating blood!
Our Blood Donor Program gives life-saving care to pets in crisis. Canine donors have our utmost respect and admiration, and the eternal gratitude of pet parents whose beloved family members have received blood. Check out our FAQs here, or fill out an online questionnaire if you would like to schedule an appointment for screening. We always welcome your call at 802-863-2387 if you’d like to learn more.