3 min read
Animal Blood Banks and Your Dog's Health
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 09/26/2017, edited: 08/10/2021
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Imagine if your dog was involved in an accident that led to injuries so serious they needed a blood transfusion to survive. Do you know whether or not your vet has access to an adequate supply of blood? Most of us never stop to think that there could come a time when our faithful hound might need a blood transfusion or whether there is an animal blood bank in the area with plenty of the right type on hand.
But your dog doesn't have to be involved in any kind of traumatic accident to need the help of the nearest animal blood bank, there are several other reasons why they might need a blood transfusion. The good news is that most areas of the U.S. have access to an animal blood bank, just in case your dog should need a pint or two.
Traumatic injuries are perhaps the most common reason your pup might need a blood transfusion. These can result from a major cut, torn limbs, gunshot wounds, or any other type of injury that leads to extensive bleeding. Just like in humans, the vet can repair the damage, but you still need a blood transfusion to restore the blood that has been lost or your dog may not be able to recover.
While most surgical procedures today can be done with minimal blood loss, there are some that require a transfusion to be started before the procedure, as significant blood loss is expected. In other cases, the vet will make sure he has the right blood on hand just in case something happens and the blood loss is higher than anticipated.
There are also several chronic conditions that require multiple units of blood as part of the treatment process. Among these are chemotherapy reactions, chemotherapy, liver failure, immune-mediated blood cell destruction, kidney failure, bone marrow failure, and more. All of these can require significant quantities of blood, which can be quite expensive.
Talk to Your Vet
If you have never considered the possibility that a time may come when your pup needs a pint or two of blood, there has never been a better time to talk to your vet about the availability of blood for them. You may also want to consider having your dog's blood checked for type and then donating blood. Just like you give blood to the Red Cross every time they come around, your dog can do the same once their blood has been tested for diseases and parasites.
What you may not know is that a single donation of blood from your dog can save the lives of up to four dogs. Since your dog's blood must be tested annually in order to be a donor, the testing is often done at no charge by the clinic and the results are given to your vet for their records. Some clinics will also provide your dog with blood products up to the amount he has donated at no charge. Be sure to ask your vet about having your dog become a blood donor, this way should the time ever come when your dog needs a blood transfusion, your pooch will have already done their part.
Animal blood banks use the very latest technology to screen any donated blood to reduce the risk of any diseases being transmitted, making them relatively safe. As with human blood transfusions, there is always a slight risk, so be sure to talk to your vet about the risks and any other concerns you might have.