Everyone knows about the need for blood donors. You may even be a blood donor yourself, but have you ever wondered, “what if my dog needed blood?”
Most pet owners have never thought about the need for blood in veterinary medicine. This is what BLOOD Hound Australia is all about.
Bella, the founder of BLOOD Hound Australia, is a veterinary nurse. Due to her occupation, she took for granted her knowledge about the need for dog blood donors but she has since come to recognise that there is a big gap in owner education regarding this vital aspect of pet health. It is literally a life and death issue that most pet owners have never considered.
Bella’s dog, Roo, is a blood donor. Alou is a Boxer who underwent emergency surgery to remove a bleeding liver tumour. Without Roo’s blood, Alou would not have survived the night. Alou was a blood donor in her younger days, and Bella is a firm believer that, along with Roo’s gift of blood, Alou pulled through her operation with good karma on her side!
When Alou had recovered, she and Roo were given the opportunity to meet for a local news story, to help spread the word about the need for pet blood donors and increase donor dog registrations. For Bella, this meeting was the catalyst for BLOOD Hound Australia.
“I didn’t want this to be a one-off, feel good story. I started BLOOD Hound after our news appearance with the intention of it becoming a national campaign, so I could reach as many pet owners as possible”, Bella explains. “We want to help bridge the gap between vets and owners, we would love to see more clinics able to collect and store blood, so that both pets in need and ‘BLOOD hounds’ everywhere have easier access to this life saving practice”. Since starting the campaign, BLOOD Hound Australia has been featured in regional, national and international media, and Bella has even been awarded for her work on this campaign… the word about canine blood donors is spreading! At present, the most common clinics that keep a store of blood on hand are emergency vets and university animal hospitals. If a general practice clinic gets in a case that needs blood, they may have some frozen blood products on hand, however most will rely on staff pets or ring-in donors. They will refer the patient to an emergency hospital if necessary and although this is better than having nothing at all, having blood ready-to-go can save precious time in a critical case and significantly improve the outcome.
The need for blood can arise due to a wide variety of conditions; blood loss, blood disorders, toxicities and even cancer treatment can all be reasons a patient may need a transfusion.
For a dog to be an eligible donor, they must be;
- over 25kg - between 1 and 7 years old - up to date with all vaccinations and parasite treatment - in general good health - of a cooperative nature and calm in a clinical environment
When your dog makes a donation, a small blood sample will first be taken from their leg and tested, to ensure they’re a suitable donor. For the first donation, they will also have their blood type tested. Dogs have over 12 known blood types, however the vets checks if they are DEA1.1 Negative, or DEA1.1 Positive. Positive blood can go to another positive dog, while negative blood is considered universal.
Once the blood has been tested, some dogs may be given a very light sedation to make the donation a bit more comfortable. The donation is collected from the jugular and takes about 10 minutes. After the donation is complete, the dog will be placed on a drip and given a super tasty meal. Unlike humans, we can’t tell a dog to drink lots of fluid after a donation so we need to ensure they are hydrated before being sent home. All up, the process takes a couple of hours. Most animal blood banks offer rewards to donors like bags of food, leashes, parasite prevention or discounted vet care as a way of saying thank you. If you think your dog could be a suitable blood donor, contact your vet or local emergency clinic to discuss the possibility with them.
To follow the BLOOD Hound Australia campaign, visit https://bloodhoundaustralia.wordpress.com/