K9 Blood Donation

Transfusion medicine for animals has improved greatly in recent years.  A large amount of research has been performed looking at blood types, risk for disease transmission and methods of administration of blood products.  Recent advances even include “freeze dried” products with long shelf lives. 

The Animal Emergency Clinic of Rockford has a large number of dogs in our volunteer donor program. When owners are interested in having their dogs donate blood, we invite them to the clinic, discuss the program and test the donor dogs for the Dog Erythrocyte Antigen (D.E.A.) 1.1. If they are DEA 1.1 negative, then additional testing is performed. This additional testing helps to ensure that the blood donated will not have a significant risk of transmitting disease to the recipient and that the dogs are healthy enough to donate blood. These dogs come to the clinic every 3 months and donate about 450 ml of blood each time.  The blood collected is then prepared in a refrigerated centrifuge designated for this purpose only. The collected whole blood is separated into plasma and red blood cells. The plasma units are then frozen immediately to make “Fresh Frozen Plasma” or “FFP.” The remaining liquid and cells are called “Packed Red Blood Cells” or “pRBCs.” A special nutrient solution is added to the pRBCs which help to nourish the red blood cells and allows them to stay alive for 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Separating the red blood cells from the plasma and adding the nutrient supplement allows an additional 2 weeks of storage compared to older methods where no separation is performed.

The Animal Emergency Clinic of Rockford has collected over 170 units of canine blood since 9/2007.

Benefits of performing this process in-house include constant supply and reduced cost.  Since we have a list of dogs tested to be ready for blood donation, we can get more blood very quickly if we have a sudden need for blood and all the stored units are used at once.  In a “traditional” ER practice we would have to order pRBCs and FFP from a blood bank which takes typically 24-48 hours to receive if on a rush, but typically 1-2 weeks.  The other benefit is cost.  We can process the collected blood at the Animal Emergency Clinic of Rockford for significantly less than a commercial animal blood bank charges for their service. We also save on the cost of overnight shipping with thermal packs.  This is a savings that is passed on to the owners of our patients. 

 This process requires tolerant dog to sit for about 5 minutes with the needle in the jugular vein and skilled phlebotomist to collect the blood.

Requirements to enroll in the blood donor program include:

  • Be at least 50 pounds
  • Between 2 and 8 years old
  • Have a good disposition and be able to sit for 5 minutes
  • Have not previously received any blood product
  • Have not previously been pregnant
  • Be currently on vaccinations and be on a heartworm and flea preventative regimen
  • Have an owner willing to bring the dog in for donation about every 3 months

If you are interested in having your dog be a blood donor please call the clinic to set up a time for blood type screening.

COMMING SOON:  Photos of our blood donors.

COMMING SOON:  Stories of how blood transfusions saved pets at the AEC.

Comments on this entry are closed.