Canine Blood Donor

"Canine blood donors may be a volunteer dog or a specially reared dog, from which blood is collected and then transfused into dogs with anemia, injuries, blood deficiencies or disorders. As canine blood transfusions are required in emergencies, the demand for blood has been increased in recent years. The need for maintaining “Animal Blood Banks” has  flourished, amongst dog owners and veterinary communities. A strict criterion has been defined for selection of a  blood donor, thus it makes most  dogs ineligible for this purpose, but even then, it is interesting to know that the number of dog blood donors has remarkably increased in recent years, due to mass awareness and demand."

Selection of a Canine Blood Donor:

Selecting a dog blood donor is a relatively difficult job. Researchers have defined very strict criteria. It is essential to fulfill all requirements, as the health of both donor and recipient is at stake, during the process.

Blood recipients may need specific blood components such as red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma.   Most dogs need red blood cells or plasma.  RBCs are transfused for diseases such as anemia (below average RBC count), as a blood replacement when a dog is undergoing surgery or after trauma or an accident.  Dogs also suffer from diseases that may destroy red blood cells which then need to be replaced.

Plasma transfusion are used to replace the proteins and enzymes that are part of the blood clotting process. Plasma is often called for when treating bleeding related to liver disease or if a dog ingests poison such as rodent poison.

Cryoprecipitate, which is also found in plasma, is used in dogs that have clotting problems, a condition known as  hemophilia.

The following are some of the requirements for a dog to become eligible for donating blood,

  • A dog blood donor must be a healthy adult, free of diseases and must be vaccinated.
  • The packed Cell Volume (PCV) of a canine blood donor must be above 40%.
  •  The weight of a canine blood donor must not be less then 25 Kg (55 pounds).
  • Obese and stressed dogs should not be selected as a canine blood donor.
  • Blood donors should only donate, in intervals of 3–5 weeks.
  • Dog blood donors must not have a history of receiving blood transfusions, throughout their entire whole life.
  • Only obedient, friendly and dogs with a suitable temperament should be selected as a blood donor.

Blood Groups and Canine Blood Donors:

Along with the above mentioned core requirements for a dog blood donor, it is also necessary that the blood group of a donor be examined for the production of antibodies; which can cause a reaction if it is an incompatible transfusion.

Dogs have eight different blood groups, of which DEA 1.1, 1.2 and 7 can produce antibodies, if transfused incompatibly.

Incompatible canine blood transfusions have the risk of causing a reaction, thus researchers recommend that ideally, dogs with these blood groups should not be selected as blood donors.

Donation of Blood:

Blood donors require care while the donation and collection of blood is being completed. No fasting, sedation or any stress is allowed prior to donation.  It usually takes less than an hour for the process.

Blood is usually collected from the jugular vein. It is highly recommended that at a minimum of two and at least three people be available during the collection process. A dog which donates blood is usually of good health and is relatively hard to restrain. Thus a minimum of one person and possibly two persons are required to restrain the dog properly. Also, one attendant is required for the jugular venepuncture and keeps an eye on the blood flowing in to the vein. Finally, another person is required to continuously rotate the collection bag, so that it is ensured that blood is mixing with an anti coagulant.  This may be done by person who performs the venepuncture, depending upon the donor's response and aggressiveness.

Ten percent (10%) of the whole blood volume needed can be collected from a canine blood donor, and up to twenty percent (20%) of a dog's blood can be collected, but it requires the simultaneous administration of crystalloid fluids, provided intravenously for about 45 minutes.

Water, food and some snacks, should be offered after collection, in order to replace nutrients and water. Blood volume is usually restored within 24 hours after donation. However, the blood cell count may take 2–3 weeks to become normal again.


The Merck Veterinary Manual

Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine

C. Bowden, et. all. “Text Book of Veterinary Medical Nursing” (Elsevier Health Sciences. 2003)

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