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Just as humans sometimes require life-saving blood transfusions, the same is true for pets. A pet blood bank meets this need by storing an emergency supply of both cat and dog blood. But where does that supply come from? Often, it comes from pets just like yours — dogs and cats who donate lifesaving blood and plasma for pets in need. Read on to learn how your pet can be a hero to someone else's pet by becoming a dog or cat blood donor.
Dog and Cat Blood Donor Requirements
In order to donate to a pet blood bank, your dog or cat must first meet certain requirements. Your pet will be given a health check and his blood will be thoroughly checked for any diseases that could be passed on during a transfusion. The blood will also be tested for blood type. Just as with humans, dogs and cats have varying blood types, and when a pet receives a transfusion, it's important that he receives the correct type. Your pet should not be taking certain medications, and depending on the clinic or the state in which you donate, there may also be requirements regarding the age and size of your pet. In addition to having a clean bill of health, your pet must possess the right temperament for being a blood donor. Preferably, your dog or cat will remain calm during the donation procedure. If your pet is high-strung or aggressive, or if going to the vet or being handled by strangers stresses him out, he probably won't be a good candidate for giving blood.
What to Expect
When the time comes for donating blood, your pet will first be prepped. Dogs generally handle the procedure well, but cats sometimes need to be sedated, says Petful. Blood is typically drawn from the jugular vein at the neck, and the spot it will be drawn from is usually shaved and cleaned before the needle is inserted. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes, during which your pet will be pampered and lavished with attention and praise. Once it's over, your pet may need to be given fluids through an IV, but typically pets recover quickly and are able to go about the rest of their day as normal, says the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center.
How Often Pets Can Give Blood
Pet blood only has a shelf life of 42 days, says Pet Blood Bank UK, so it's important for donor animals to donate regularly for as long as they can. Typically, a healthy pet may donate every three weeks, but blood banks and clinics may place limits on how many times per year your cat or dog can donate, according to The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center.
How to Volunteer Your Pet
Pet blood bank donation requirements and enrollment procedures vary from state to state, so if you're interested in volunteering your pet, your first step is to contact your veterinarian, who can tell you where to enroll your pet as well as what the local requirements are. You may find that your vet keeps an in-house blood bank and would be all too happy to run tests on your pet to see if he's a good match, which many vets do free of charge.
When a pet blood bank runs out of a certain type of blood, that spells bad news for sick and injured pets in need of that type of blood. By donating your own pet's blood for those in need, you can feel good about potentially saving the life of someone else's cherished companion. And just think, some day your pet could be in need of a transfusion, and you will be very glad that someone was kind enough to have their pet donate.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.