Vets face pet blood shortages amid National Blood Donor Month
As pet ownership continues to grow, and pet owners become increasingly willing to spend more on medical care for their furry companions, the demand for pet blood transfusions is rising. While the demand for pet blood donors has steadily increased over the last several years, supply of pet blood is dwindling, with pet blood donations per transfusion dropping by 47% from 2017 to 2020 across BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospitals.
COVID and Blood Donations
The emergence of COVID-19 has likely deepened the divide in supply and demand of pet blood across the nation. In fact, BluePearl, which has 11 pet blood banks across the U.S. and whose practices collectively perform more than 500 pet blood transfusions each month, has seen a 19% decline in the number of pet blood donations in 2020 as compared to the same time period in 2019.
To ensure the safety of staff, clients, and pets, many veterinary practices instituted new COVID-19 protocols such as curbside patient check-in/check-out and have encouraged clients to utilize telehealth options. These new guidelines—alongside a national uptick in pet ownership—have lengthened the time it takes to provide veterinary care. Changes to hospital processes, increased wait times, and/or safety concerns are likely to have discouraged clients and their pets from participating in local blood donation programs amid the pandemic.
Providing safe blood to pets who are in immediate need is challenging, as there are only a handful of pet blood banks across the U.S. and the pandemic has decreased overall donations. To supply veterinarians around the country with sufficient blood, we simply need more donors,” said James Barr, DVM, DACVECC, Chief Medical Officer at BluePearl.
“Today, as we look to pets for companionship and comfort, and the human-animal bond proves to be stronger than ever before, it is important to think about the ways in which pet ownership positively impacts our world. Pet blood donation is one of the best ways to give back to both people and pets during these trying times.”
BluePearl hospitals may offer blood transfusions to pets undergoing critical surgery or suffering from heart disease, heat stroke, immune system conditions, kidney disease or injury, acute trauma, or poisoning. A blood transfusion can save a pet’s life, giving pet owners more years to spend with their furry companions.
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.
BluePearl Blood Bank Locations
BluePearl would not be able to fulfill its mission without the invaluable contributions of dog and cat donors. If you are interested in enrolling your pet in a blood donation program, contact your local veterinarian or BluePearl Pet Hospital for more information.
To see a list of participating BluePearl pet blood banks, visit bluepearlvet.com/blood-bank.
BluePearl also works with Canine Blood Heroes, a national system of local canine blood donation programs, in Phoenix (all four locations) and Kansas City (all three locations), to provide local veterinarians and pet owners with access to safe canine blood. Learn more about these programs by calling your local BluePearl hospital or visiting: https://caninebloodheroes.com/.