Dog blood donors wanted for sick pets

July 21, 2015

A great dane donating blood at Murdoch University's Veterinary Hospital

A great dane donating blood at Murdoch University's Veterinary Hospital

Murdoch University’s Veterinary Hospital is looking for caring dog owners who would be willing to volunteer their pets to become regular blood donors and save lives.

More than 100 critically ill dogs every year require a blood transfusion at the Vet Hospital on Murdoch’s South Street Campus, so a blood bank is being established using pet dog donors from the community.

“Volunteering your dog as a blood donor will save the life of someone’s beloved pet. It will help to ensure we always have blood available when a sick dog is in need,” said Dr Melissa Claus, a critical care specialist at the vet hospital.

“Blood products for dogs are hard to come by. Very recently a company in Queensland began to offer blood for sale, but using their product drives up the prices for our clients.

“We have the equipment here in the hospital to maximise every donation that comes in. One simple donation of 450ml could help a number of dogs.”

Suitable blood donors would need to weigh at least 25kg because of the amount of blood that needs to be taken, and be aged between one and eight years.

Dr Claus added that well behaved, well trained dogs make the best blood donors but that the clinical team could usually also handle happy, hyperactive temperaments.

“Aggressive and particularly nervous dogs would be unsuitable for the blood donation procedure. This involves putting a needle in their jugular vein in their neck so we need the dogs to obey when we tell them to sit,” said Dr Claus.

“During the donation process, the dogs are given small treats and once we have finished, they are given a full meal. The process is quite similar to when humans give blood and shouldn’t cause pain or discomfort. We advise owners to ensure their dogs rest and keep their neck collars off for the following 24 hours.”

If you would like to volunteer your dog for a donation, they will need to be screened and examined by the Veterinary Hospital vets. A small blood sample will also be taken to check the dog is completely healthy. If selected, they would ideally make a donation every two to three months.

Dr Claus said dogs had lots of different blood types but that these could be divided into two main groups. The donated blood could typically be used to treat dogs which had come into contact with rat poison, were suffering from liver disease or had suffered severe trauma.

For more information about blood donations and to organise a screening for your dog, contact Dr Claus on m.claus@murdoch.edu.au.

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