Blood Hounds

Imagine taking your four-legged tail-wagger on a car trip…to the canine blood bank! Believe it or not, these facilities do exist. Rover just hops up on the table, rolls up his cuff—er—flips out his paw, and the donation begins. It makes sense. Dogs suffering from diseases, anemia, and injuries need blood transfusions.

Last night, while I drove home from my local writers’ group, this story on John Tesh's radio show caught my attention.

Tesh cited CNN and Dr. Ann Schneider of the Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank (EVBB) in Maryland with most of his information. It turns out that dogs have six major blood types, but depending on the breed or mix they might have a dozen! Wow. Talk about some intricate DNA.

And some large breeds are universal blood donors—greyhounds, retrievers, labs, boxers, pit bulls, german shephards.

Of course, my first thought was of our lab mix, Abraham. How would he react to regular visits to donate blood? According to Dr. Schneider of EVBB, ideal donors are laid back (check), healthy (check), and weigh over 35 pounds (double-check). EVBB screens the pups before the process, hugs them throughout the event, and gives them treats. If a treat came afterward, I know that Abe would get the hang of this over time. The main road block to Abraham is his age. He’s seven.  Or is he eight? Dogs should retire from donating blood at the age of 8 ½.

A few other points worth mentioning:

• Dogs can’t give or receive blood from humans or cats. The protein in their blood is different from ours and felines'.

• Veterinarians deal with a shortage of canine blood year round, but the worst times are spring, summer and fall.

• Some veterinarians handle the shortage by keeping dogs on hand just to donate blood. A dog can donate about every two months, but vets prefer to use an animal who goes home to a loving family afterward.

For more information, you can check the following websites:

Or call the Animal Blood Bank Hotline at 800-243-5759.


Anonymous said…
Hi Barbara,
RE: Animal blood bank

I once had a Dachshund named Max. Max would never have been a volunteer for this program. He always believed that the dogs he fought should do all the donating. lest you think badly of Max, I must say that he was not without some civic responsibility. He was usually first in line as a sperm donor. Uncle Wayne.
LOL, Uncle Wayne! So Max was a regular Casanova while our dog Abraham would love to eat like Jabba the Hutt!
Heidi Cox said…
Mom, I would totally be fine if you wanted to do that with him. I think it's an amazing idea. I know if something happened to him, I would be so happy if there was more blood, from some sweet well behaved pup, to give Abraham .
fyi- He will be 8 in September. I got him in November 2002 when he was 6-8 weeks old.
Yes, everyone, Abraham is technically Heidi's dog, but she moved to LA three years ago and hasn't found a place to live that accepts dogs.

Also, I found out that there probably are not any blood banks in my state. University of Georgia is probably the closest blood bank.

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