June 2020

Canine Blood Donor Program

By Brooke Neiberger, RVT

The Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center has a community-based volunteer canine blood donor program to provide life-saving blood products for use in hospitalized patients. Just like in people, blood transfusions can be crucial for many of the canine patients staying in the hospital. Blood loss through anemia, toxins, and trauma are all conditions that a patient could benefit from blood products. The volunteer blood donor program helps to meet the transfusion needs of the patients here at the VHC. The demand for blood products for our patients increases every year, which increases the need for more volunteer blood donors to ensure that every patient in need can be treated.

Similar to humans, in order to be an eligible blood donor dogs must be in good general health. All prospective canine donors must be friendly, calm, and cooperative without their owner present. There is an age and weight restriction of one to five years old and over 55 lbs. Donors must be current on their required vaccinations and be free of any medications other than flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives. Females need to have no history of pregnancy while males must be neutered. Dogs who have previously received a blood transfusion will also not qualify into the program. Donors would preferably be available for collection once every two months.

After meeting the requirements and before the donation process is started, possible donors will have complete physical exams and blood typing performed. Dog blood types are commonly referred to as Dog Erythrocyte Antigens or DEA. We test for four types of antigens DEA 1.1, 4, 5, and 7. Dogs that are negative for DEA 1.1 are known to be the universal donors, which is what we are currently looking for. Once we have the result of what DEA the potential donor is the dog will continue on to the second screening process. The second screening process will check for general health (complete blood count, chemistry profile, fecal, urinalysis, and blood pressure) and infectious diseases (heartworm test and blood transfusion panel) to protect both the blood donor and the recipient. After all the screening results have come back the VHC will know if the potential donor can now become a donor.

Benefits owners receive from enrolling their dog(s) in the volunteer blood donor program include a bag of food after each donation, flea and tick preventatives, heartworm preventatives, yearly vaccinations, and yearly blood work. Please take the time to consider if your dog(s) could be a K-State VHC Volunteer Blood donor. If you would like more information about the program and how your dog(s) could help save lives you can contact us at vhcblooddonor@k-state.edu

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