As World Blood Donor Day (14 June) approaches, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and national charity Pet Blood Bank UK are calling for owners to donate their pets' blood, which is often needed to save animals. More than 1,000 dogs needed a transfusion last year, with Pet Blood Bank UK the only charity to provide a national canine blood bank service for all veterinary practitioners.
Jenny Walton, Veterinary Supervisor for Pet Blood Bank UK, said, “World Blood Donor Day is a great way for us to raise awareness that dogs can be blood donors too. Our aim is to advance animal health and welfare and to relieve suffering by providing quick and convenient access to blood. We rely on the veterinary profession and the general public’s support for our not for profit programme that sees owners volunteer their dogs to donate blood to help save others."
One of the dogs who needed a transfusion in order to survive is Albert, a three-year-old dachshund from Bushey, near Watford. Usually a happy, healthy dog, Albert became violently sick on morning. He was immediately taken to the local vet and then referred to a specialist, but things were not looking good.
“We rushed him to Davies Veterinary Specialists near Hitchin for investigations of Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA) where his own immune system destroys his blood cells," says owner Meg Sharp.
“Albert had rapid deterioration of his blood cell count and when he was given another blood test it confirmed IMHA. It wasn’t looking good and he was in a really bad way. Albert had to have three blood transfusions and an abdominal ultra sound also showed a slightly enlarged liver and pancreas with changes in the pancreas being consistent with pancreatitis.
“During his stay he was given steroids because of the rapid destruction of his red blood cells and after having had all the transfusions and tests it became impossible to get any more blood from him as all his veins had collapsed."
Things, however, began to look up as one more test showed that Albert's blood count had improved. He's now well on the way to recovery.
“Albert really is a fighter and our little miracle and if we didn’t have Pet Blood Bank UK we wouldn’t have Albert today," Meg says. "The donated blood saved his life and we’d urge anyone with a dog that fits the donor criteria to register. Putting a dog forward for blood donation is such a simple thing to do but it saves lives. You don’t realise just how important the work Pet Blood Bank UK does is until you need help for your dog as we did for Albert."
BSAVA President Susan Dawson says, “Hearing such heart-warming stories of pets donating blood is what World Blood Donor Day is all about, not only saving lives but helping pet owners through difficult times. By focusing attention on pet donation for this year’s World Blood Donor Day we can raise even more awareness of the tremendous work being done and encourage more pet owners to get involved.”
Potential donor dogs need to be "fit and healthy, between one and eight years old, weigh more than 25kg, have a good temperament, have never travelled abroad, vaccinated and not on any medication". If your dog fits the description, do consider blood donation: it might just save another dog's life.
Images provided by BSAVA.