written by Eric Powell, edited by Robyn Jacobs
Everyone is aware of the need for human blood donations, and I’m sure many of you have donated your own blood to the Red Cross. However, few people consider the fact that blood transfusions are also used in veterinary medicine. As complex medical procedures involving transfusions have become more commonplace for pets, a few national animal blood banks have sprung up to provide their supplies to veterinary hospitals. Logan and my personal blood bank is Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank (formerly EVBB), staffed by Dr. Ann Schneider, her vet tech assistant Dave and 3 additional teams of Canine blood collection folks……and the administrative and management staff.
Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank relies exclusively on volunteer canine donors. Eligibility requirements for dogs are as follows:
- Up-to-date on vaccines and current on Heartworm prevention
- No history of serious health issues and cannot currently be taking medication
- Friendly, obedient, and calm
- Weigh at least 35 lbs and be between 9 months and 7 years; dogs can donate until they are 9 years old, but must begin the program by about 7 years
- Willing to commit to donate 9 times in that year—every 5-7 weeks.
The first session is a meet and greet to get to know the dog’s temperament. At that session a small amount of blood is drawn to do a diagnostic (about $400 worth of tests for free!) and a blood typing.
After that at the next session, the blood donation process is actually very simple – no fasting or other preparation is required, and it only takes about 10-20 minutes. As with humans, dogs that have given blood should avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours, which is how long it takes for blood volume to return to normal.
Not only will you feel good about your dog’s blood helping canines in need, but there can also be rewards in it for both you and your dog. Your dog will receive a brief exam at each visit, blood typing and diagnostic, heartworm & tests for tick diseases and a substantial discount on blood if your dog ever needs a transfusion. Perks for your dog include food, toys and loads of affection.
At Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank, Dr. Ann Schneider and Dave clearly love what they do. Logan is taking a few sessions to get used to the process, as some dogs do, and Dr. Ann and Dave want to make sure he is comfortable before having him actually donate. The peanut butter we use to distract him seems to be working and last time we came to our site at VCA Lewis Animal Hospital in Columbia, Md, Logan started getting excited in the parking lot. I told him we were going to see Dr. Ann and he was beside himself with his vocalizations. That has to be a good sign.
There are about 30 blood donation sites throughout Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia with more sites being added. At American Red Cross, it’s reported that blood donors feel a great sense of satisfaction after donating blood. It’s because it feels good to give. Don’t you want your dog to have that satisfaction? Have your dog call 1-800-949-EVBB or visit the site www.evbb.com. Tell him there are treats involved and he won’t be able to resist!