Can Pets Donate Blood?

Dogs and Cats Save Lives Through Transfusions

Did you know your dog or cat can donate blood and save another pet's life?

Modern veterinary medicine has made it possible to offer higher standards of care to our pets in need. Like humans, pets require fresh blood to survive surgery following a traumatic health crisis, such as a car accident, poisoning, kidney failure, or leukemia.

How Do You Know if Your Pet Can Be a Donor?

According to DogBloodDonors.com, healthy dogs aged one to seven years that have been vaccinated, are free of infections and parasites, are not on any medications and are not pregnant make good candidates. Ideally, dogs will weigh more than 50 pounds although smaller dogs, including those weighing 25 pounds, have donated blood, too.

Cats must weigh more than 10 pounds, live indoors only and be two to seven years old to donate blood. Cats also have to test negative for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), must never have been previously bred, and never received a blood transfusion. 

Do Pets Have Blood Types, Too?

Dogs and cats do have their own blood types, like humans, that need to be matched to another pet in order to receive a blood transfusion. Dogs and cats have multiple blood types that are related to the proteins on the surface of their red blood cells. Cats, for instance, have four types of blood: A, B, AB and Mik (a rare blood type that isn't very common).

How is Your Pet's Blood Collected?

Dog receives a syringe injection

Ideally, your dog should be not be sedated during a blood donation, which is why calm, friendly, easygoing dogs are usually the best candidates for a donation. However, blood collections can be made from a sedated pet if necessary. Cats are sedated for blood donation.

Like a human blood donation, your pet's blood will be collected in a blood bag through a syringe that is inserted into a large vein, usually in the neck or in the cephalic vein on your pet's foreleg. To prevent contamination, the area in which the syringe is inserted will be clipped and cleaned beforehand. There could be some swelling or bruising in this area in the days following the collection.

The amount of blood collected is based on a standard scale of units depending on your pet's weight.

How Often Can Your Pets Donate Blood?

Like humans, it is recommended that pets limit their donations to every three to four months to prevent anemia from developing.

Register for a Pet Blood Donation

If you're interested in seeing if your pet is a good candidate for blood donation, you can either contact your family veterinarian for more information or register online at Web sites like AnimalBloodRegister.com.

Often, blood banks or veterinary hospitals offer benefits to donating, such as free blood testing or gift certificates for pet supplies.