Dogs and cats in emergencies, after surgeries, or with certain diseases might have to rely on blood products from an animal blood bank. If you’ve never heard of these life-saving organizations or are considering volunteering your fur baby as a donor, here’s what you need to know!

Animal blood banks are just like human blood banks, except that the donors are dogs and cats. The blood taken from donor animals is stored for animals that need transfusions because of things like trauma, disease, and surgery. Blood can get shipped all over the country to veterinary clinics in need, but many animal blood banks are facing shortages that could have dire consequences. Let’s look at what these blood banks are, who they’re for, and who can donate.

Why Do Animals Need Blood Transfusions

A dog or cat might need a transfusion of whole blood, plasma, platelets, or red cells for many reasons, including:

  • Anemia
  • Clotting problems
  • Surgery
  • Injury or trauma
  • Disease

Transfusions are critical parts of the recovery process for dogs and cats suffering from these conditions. Without access to these blood products, many dogs and cats would lose their lives.

Animal Blood Banks Are Experiencing Shortages

Animal blood banks are becoming increasingly important due to the rising demand for blood transfusions. There are some regional and national animal blood banks across the United States and Canada, but they are generally few and far between throughout the world. For example, Pet Blood Bank UK says only 1% of veterinarians in the country have access to cat blood. That’s why a veterinarian named Dr. Jeremy Campbell opened the UK’s first blood bank for cats, BSA Animal Blood Bank UK.

In North America, many animal blood banks are facing shortages. One of the problems is a lack of donors. Another is that animals have blood types just like humans. Giving the wrong blood to an animal can have serious and even fatal consequences, so there’s no guarantee an animal needing a transfusion will have access to blood.

Criteria for Animals to Donate Blood

Animal blood banks rely on volunteer dogs and cats, but the animals still must meet various requirements, such as:

  • Being healthy and disease-free
  • Meeting age and weight criteria
  • Having certain vaccinations or titer testing
  • Eating a good diet
  • Having a calm temperament during vet visits

If you think your dog or cat might be a good candidate for donating blood, contact your veterinarian or local animal blood bank.

AUTHOR PROFILE

Animal Wellness is North America's top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.