As a result of recent advancements in veterinary medicine and owners increasingly willing to spend more money on care for the family pet, the demand for pet blood has increased; however, pet blood supplies around the country continues 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.”
Similar to humans, cats and dogs have different blood types; felines have three different feline-specific blood types, and canines have six. While pet donor requirements and screening can vary slightly by state and program, the need for pet blood supplies is constant.
To donate, dogs must be one to seven years old, healthy, up-to-date on vaccines and weigh more than 50 pounds. 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.
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