CharitiesVeterinary

Vets and charity search for dog donation ‘heroes’

Charity Pet Blood Bank UK is now working with Vets4Pets to encourage more owners to register their dog to give blood, as the charity faces challenges over the summer months which lead to lower stock levels of blood during this period.

According to recent research by Vets4Pets, owners are not aware that their dogs can give blood, new research has revealed, which could lead to pets missing out on life-saving blood donations. Only 40% of pet owners know their dog can give blood, with respondents from the north east most likely to be aware that dogs can give blood (57%), whilst those in Wales were the least likely (30%).

Vets4Pets and Pet Blood Bank are hoping owners who give blood will help increase the number of dog blood donors, as the research revealed only 13% of respondents have had, or currently own, a dog that has given blood, compared to 51% who said that they have donated blood themselves.

A focus has been put on dogs with the negative blood type, as these supplies are often low because only 30% of dogs eligible to give blood have this blood type. Breeds that are most likely to have a negative blood type include Dobermans, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Weimaraners, Greyhounds, Pointers, Lurchers and German Shepherds.

Pet Blood Bank is the UK’s only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for vets, but the team often face issues over the coming months, with owners cancelling appointments and the heat affecting dogs being able to donate, which means stock levels of blood reduce throughout the summer.

According to the research, 27% of respondents think giving blood would hurt their dog, whilst a third think their dog would be scared when giving blood and one in five think their dog would be unwell afterwards.

The charity works with more than 50 UK veterinary practices, which act as donation centres where the Pet Blood Bank team can hold sessions, visiting each venue between three and six times a year.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Just like people, sick and injured dogs may need blood transfusions, and, in most cases, it is literally the difference between life and death.

“The reasons for needing a blood transfusion can be very similar between humans and dogs, as it is used to treat anaemia caused by anything from autoimmune diseases to emergency cases where severe trauma has resulted in dramatic blood loss.”

Wendy Barnett, clinical director at Pet Blood Bank, added: “We hope by working with Vets4Pets it will help increase the numbers of people registering their dogs as donors, particularly negative blood type breeds, so we can continue our work of helping to save pets’ lives.

“We often have problems getting blood in the summer and keeping stocks from being critically low, as the number of no-show appointments increases. Dog owners often cancel last minute, due to the weather or going on holiday, and then we find it difficult to book appointments in.”

Dogs that donate must be over 25kg, be on no medication other than preventative flea and worm treatments, be between one and eight years old and have had the core vaccinations. They also can’t have travelled abroad or have been imported from outside the UK or Ireland.

Each donation is split into two components – packed red blood cells and plasma, and each of these can be split in half meaning one donation can help save the lives of up to four other dogs.

Red blood cells can survive for up to six weeks, whilst plasma can be frozen for up to five years, which means one dog’s blood donation can help save lives for half a decade.

If any owner wants more advice on the process, or is interested in their dog becoming a pet blood donor, they can visit: www.vets4pets.com/petblooddonation or www.petbloodbankuk.org/

Breeds that are more likely to be negative blood type:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • American Bulldog
  • Border Collie
  • Boxer, Doberman
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • English Bull Terrier
  • Flat Coated Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Greyhound
  • Lurcher
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Pointer
  • Weimaraner

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