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Canine blood donations

Q: When I donated blood this week, I saw a poster asking for dogs to donate blood when the bloodmobile comes to the parking lot one day next month. I had no idea my dog could donate blood to help other dogs. What’s involved in canine blood donation?

A: The US has more than 80 community-based canine blood donation programs that provide whole blood and blood products, such as packed red blood cells and concentrated platelets.

Blood products are used to treat dogs with traumatic injuries and toxic conditions, such as destruction of red blood cells after ingestion of zinc pennies or inability to clot blood after anti-coagulant rodenticide exposure.

The ideal canine blood donor is healthy, calm enough to sit still throughout the donation procedure, at least 55 pounds (since one pint of blood is drawn), between age one and middle-age, and up to date on vaccinations. The dog should take no medications except preventives for heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas and ticks.

Most programs prefer donor dogs with a DEA 1.1 negative (“universal”) blood type, so the blood bank will probably test your dog’s blood before taking the donation.

If your dog qualifies, the blood bank will perform a routine wellness blood panel and test for blood-borne infectious diseases. You’ll receive those test results, and your dog will go home with a goodie bag. More importantly, you will know your dog helped save other dogs’ lives through his blood donation.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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