Pet Blood Banks: What You Need to Know

pet blood bank

We all tend to see our pets as our heroes, if not our best friends or closest family members. In reality though, how often do our pets actually get to be heroes? Maybe you have a baby saving cat or dog, but the heroics of most of our pets come from the unconditional love they bask us in.  The way they make us smile when it seems like nothing else can, or the way they can save lives with their blood.

Was that last one a new one for you? It was for me! It never occurred to me that I wasn’t the only one with blood to donate. It turns out that pet blood banks are always looking for donors and if your cat or dog qualifies they could become bonafide heroes to other people’s pets all across America.

What is a pet blood bank?

Hopefully, you’ve been lucky enough to remain as blissfully unaware of pet blood banks as I was. If you haven’t, then you probably know that they are similar to human blood banks. The main difference is that they are for pets—not humans. Like a pet blood bankhuman blood bank, a pet blood banks provide blood for transfusions to unhealthy or injured animals. The blood is sent to the veterinary facility that the animal is being treated at and typically administered through a vein.

Why are pet blood banks so important?

Not every state has a blood bank and, according to the Petplace database, most of them that do only have one or two. This means that the blood is shipped from far away increasing the cost of an already expensive procedure and wasting precious time for your furry loved one. Vetfolio notes that some veterinary clinics in areas without blood banks collect and store blood donations for emergencies. However, they can’t make the same blood products that blood banks do, which means they aren’t as effective. While cats use blood transfusions, dogs often need concentrated forms of the separate components such as red blood cells or plasma. This is why blood bank accessibility is so important. Without the proper blood products, a sick pet is less likely to recover.

Does your pet qualify to be a blood donor?

If you happen to live near one of the blood banks listed below you should check to see if your pet qualifies to be a donor. They all have different qualifications listed on their website, but generally, your cat or dog has to be between the ages of 1-8, be up to date on all of their vaccinations, healthy, not used for breeding, and the only medications they can be on are for heartworm, flea, and thyroid. In addition, dogs have to be over 50 pounds and cats have to be over 10 pounds to extract the needed amount of blood safely.

pet blood bankIs it ethical to have your pet donate blood or accept donated blood for your pet?

While there have been pet blood banks that have been called out for neglect, some blood banks are shutting down their “closed colony” banks and are instead using doggie bloodmobiles where pets can donate as opposed to pulling blood from dogs kept specifically for the purpose of blood donation. While most pet parents would do just about anything to keep their furry loved ones alive and healthy, it’s always a good idea to look into the practices a particular blood bank utilizes prior to accepting a transfusion for your pet.

How does pet blood donationwork?

When pets are brought in for donations, they are typically dropped off for a couple of hours, much like a grooming appointment. According to Veterinary Medical Center at the University of Minnesota, they are then hooked up to an IV that pumps out about 16 ounces of blood for dogs and 2 ounces for cats, which is then replenished with fluids. When everything is finished, the pet is given a treat and some love while they wait for their owner to return.

Are there any benefits for having your pet be a blood donor?

In case turning your favorite animal friend into a national hero isn’t reason enough to inspire a donation, check out the websites listed below to see what kind of incentives your local blood bank offers. At the minimum, you will get a free physical examination and blood workup that the University of Minnesota values at $600. Some blood banks take it a step further by offering things such as a year’s supply of tick and heartworm medications. For full details review the state by state list below.

State Blood Bank
Arizona Murphy’s Blood Bank/Southern Arizona Veterinary & Specialty & Emergency Center
Arkansas Arkansas Companion Animal Blood Bank
California Hemopet
California Animal Blood Bank
California University of California Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital Blood Bank
Florida Sun States Animal Blood Bank
Florida Rocky Mountain Blood Services
Indiana The Veterinarians’ Blood Bank, Inc.
Iowa Canine Blood Bank of Central Iowa
Massachussettes Angell Animal Medical Center
Michigan Animal Blood Bank DBA
Michigan Buddies for Life Canine Blood Bank
Michigan Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Minnesota Twin Cities Animal Blood Bank
Mississippi Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Missouri St. Louis Animal Blood Bank
North Carolina Veterinary Teaching Hospital at North Carolina State University
Ohio Ohio State University Blood Bank
Oregon Dove Lewis Blood Bank
Rhode Island Ocean State Veterinary Specialists
Tennessee University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas The Pet Blood Bank
Virginia Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank
Washington Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Wisconsin Emergency Clinic For Animals Blood Donor Program

Would you ever have your pet donate their blood? Do you think pet blood banks should be more common across the country? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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