In human medicine, donated blood is often an essential component in saving a life or treating a serious injury. Many people are not aware that blood donations are also in high demand in the veterinary world.
BluePearl Veterinary Partners, a national provider of emergency and specialty pet care, currently hosts thriving pet blood banks in Seattle, Houston and Tampa. Hundreds of active donor pets help save thousands of lives every year, but cat and dog blood is still in very high demand in pet hospitals across the United States. BluePearl emergency clinician and Tampa blood bank program founder Dr. Dee Ann Dugger explains everything you need to know about signing your pet up for this life-saving program:
What impact could my pet have by signing up as a donor?
With one single donation, up to three
pet lives can be saved. Every new donor helps combat nationwide blood shortages. In many cases, blood donated at BluePearl is used directly for emergencies within our own hospitals. This eliminates the need to order blood from external sources, so pets get medical care much faster.
In one case, a dying German shepherd puppy was brought to the hospital in desperate need of a blood donation to survive. Luckily, the blood of a Great Dane donor pet was quickly administered to the puppy and saved his life. This is just one of thousands of lives saved by donor pets every year.
In another case, Goliath the 9-year-old Shih Tzu needed a blood transfusion after he was attacked by two dogs. He was unable to stand and minimally responsive due to blood loss from a damaged spleen and three hernias. Luckily, his blood was cross matched with donor dog Kaiya, and he quickly received the donation he needed. He went home four days later and continues to thrive.
What type of cases require blood donations?
Donated blood is used to treat trauma cases, such as pets who have been struck by cars, with resulting massive blood loss or internal bleeding. Blood is also commonly needed for puppies and kittens suffering from severe flea anemia or parasite infections. Other medical conditions such as immune-mediated anemia and cancer in pets often require blood transfusions.
What is the donation process like? Will my pet be in pain?
Cats and dogs recover from blood donations much faster than humans do, and the pain is very minimal. Your pet will be placed on a table in a comfortable position, and a friendly staff member will use a needle to draw the blood from your pet. During the duration of this 15-minute process, your pet will be surrounded by affectionate veterinary technicians with lots of delicious treats to give. It’s as easy as that.
Are there any benefits of signing my pet up as a donor?
Aside from saving the lives of other pets, there are many benefits for registering your pet as a blood donor. At BluePearl’s blood bank in Tampa, we offer the following benefits:
- FREE extensive blood screening that checks for a wide variety of diseases and other medical concerns. This bloodwork can be shared with your primary veterinarian.
- One FREE blood transfusion for your pet if he ever needs donated blood later on in life
- Monetary credit added to your account with every donation to use for future veterinary visits
- Lots of love and treats for your heroic pet during every donation!
Donor pets in Seattle and Houston receive the following benefits:
- FREE exam by a veterinary clinician
- FREE complete blood test which includes thyroid (for cats), heartworm and infectious disease testing
- One FREE blood product if needed after completion of six donations
- Plenty of love and kisses during every donation
What qualifications must my pet meet to sign up?
All pets and owners who express an interest in our blood bank are greatly appreciated. However, to provide the healthiest blood possible to the donor recipients, a pet must meet the following criteria to be accepted:
- Minimum 10 pounds for cats or 50 pounds for dogs
- Spayed or neutered with no prior pregnancies
- No prior transfusions
- Current on vaccinations and heartworm preventative
- Cats must be indoors only, and other family cats must be indoor cats too
- Generally well-behaved and calm so sedation is not required
- Contact your local BluePearl blood bank for age requirements
How often would my pet donate blood?
Donor pets are encouraged to provide blood about 3-4 times per year at the owner’s convenience.
Can you please tell me more about BluePearl’s blood banks?
In Tampa, Dr. Dugger recognized the severe need for donated blood for veterinary hospitals and decided to take action by forming BluePearl’s Tampa blood bank. Since its start over three years ago, the blood bank now has over 150 active donors, about 35 of which are cats. Dr. Dugger and three trained veterinary technicians manage all blood donations on a day-to-day basis and welcome new pets to the donor family. Blood donations are also accepted at our Clearwater and Brandon locations for your convenience.
“It’s a wonderful program,” Dugger says about the program. “You will meet many great people and pets who are like family.”
In Houston, the veterinary team at North Houston Veterinary Specialty and Emergency, a BluePearl hospital, founded the city’s first veterinary blood bank in January 2016. This program already has 50 registered donor pets and expects to exceed 200 donors within the next year. Part of this blood bank’s success is thanks to their partnership with K9 academy, an organization that provides service dogs to a multitude of handlers around the world. Their team is very passionate about helping pets in need of blood, so they expanded the program to their Katy and Spring locations.
Seattle’s blood bank opened in late 2003, shortly after the hospital opened. The veterinary team realized that in order to save lives of the many patients, they needed access to a safe and consistent blood supply. Their mission is to supply blood not only for their own BluePearl hospital, but also for any pets in need in the Puget Sound area. Managed by medical director Dr. Beth Davidow and practice manager Heather Boyer, this bank sees over 200 donors and blood donations are collected at the Seattle and Renton BluePearl locations.
I’m interested! How do I register my pet as a donor?
Give us a call! Our team members would be happy to connect you with our blood bank technicians. They will set up your initial meet-and-greet consultation to take a sample of your pet’s blood for testing and get to know your sweet cat or dog. After this initial meeting, the first donation will be scheduled.
To contact our Tampa blood bank (which also accepts donations in Clearwater and Brandon), please call 813.933.8944.
To contact our Houston blood bank (which also accepts donations in Katy and Spring), please call 281.675.6000.
To contact our Seattle blood bank, (which also accepts donations in Renton) please call 206.364.1660.