Advancements in veterinary medicine and the rise of specialty veterinary care, such as emergency, critical care, oncology, and surgery, have given way to a more sophisticated pet owner. This twenty-first century pet owner now seeks novel ways to prolong and enhance the lives of their furry family member—especially as they age or if they become ill or injured.
As a result of these advancements, the demand for pet blood has increased; however, pet blood supplies around the country continue to fall short. In fact, many veterinarians today rely on out-of-state blood banks that often have an extremely limited supply.
January is National Blood Donor Month, which makes it a perfect time to bring awareness to the importance and benefits of pet blood banks. BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital has eight pet blood banks across the country that are helping to treat heart disease, heat stroke, immune system conditions, kidney disease or injury, acute trauma, poisoning and more in pets. BluePearl also works with Canine Blood Heroes, a national system of local canine blood donation programs, in Phoenix and Kansas City to provide local pet owners and veterinarians with access to safe canine blood.
Dogs and cats require blood transfusions for many of the same reasons humans do: illness, injury, or surgery,” remarked Dee Ann Dugger, Senior Clinician, Head of Emergency Service, Blood Bank Director at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Tampa, Fla. “However, with only a handful of banks nationally, getting safe blood to a pet who is in immediate need is a challenge. Right now, we, as a veterinary community, are not producing enough blood for veterinarians around the country. We simply need more donors.”
Pet blood banks, like human blood banks, rely on the kind donations of volunteers who meet blood donation requirements. BluePearl veterinarians are urging owners to get their dog and/or cat screened to see if their pet(s) can help save a life and give other pet owners more time with their four-legged companions.
Similar to humans, cats and dogs have different blood types; felines have three different feline-specific blood types, and canines have six,” said Dr. Dugger. “While cats and dogs have several different blood types, with some in higher demand than others, a wide donor pool is needed. Pet blood donation is one of the best ways to give back to both people and pets.”
Dogs must be one to seven years old, healthy, up-to-date on vaccines and weigh more than 50 pounds to donate. Canine blood, specifically, is not breed specific, but greyhounds are known for being universal donors. Conversely, cats must weigh more than 10 pounds, live indoors, and be two to seven years old. Cats must also test negative for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, and have not previously bred or received a blood transfusion.
While pet donor requirements and screening can vary slightly by state and program, the need for pet blood supplies is constant.
If you are interested in enrolling your pet in a blood donation program, contact your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary hospital for more information.
Click the hospital link below to see the unique benefits and eligibility requirements at the hospital you would like to visit.