The lives of hundreds of dogs in the UK have been saved over the past year thanks to Pet Blood Bank (PBBuk), the first national canine blood donation charity. The charity was launched at Crufts in March 2007 and now has over 800 regular doggy donors attending blood collection sessions all over the country.
PBBuk carries out around two donations sessions every week and relies entirely on volunteer donors and their owners.
For a potential donor to be eligible to donate, it must fulfil certain criteria:
Fit and well, calm in nature
Over 25kg (55lbs) lean bodyweight
Between 1-8 years of age
Never travelled outside the UK and Ireland
Not on any medications apart from routine
flea and worm treatments.
During a donation session, one of the PBBuk vets will go through some questions with the owner regarding the dog’s health and complete a routine check, listening to the dog’s heart and checking its temperature and breathing before taking a blood sample to check that the potential donor is not anaemic or dehydrated.
All being well, the dog is lifted on to a comfy bed and a little anaesthetic applied before the needle is gently inserted. The whole process is entirely painless for the dog and usually takes between 5 – 10 minutes. Whilst the procedure is taking place, the dog is given lots of well deserved tummy tickles and following the donation, the donors receive lots of treats, cuddles, a bowl of water and a tin of food – the animal equivalent of a cup of tea and a biscuit! All dogs who donate also receive a special “I’m a Lifesaver” bandana to wear.
Like humans, dogs have different blood groups and can be blood typed. Scientists have found eight types of dog blood, but for transfusions it is sorted into just two types – dog erythrocyte antigen (DEA) 1.1 positive or negative. DEA 1.1 negative dogs can donate blood to any dog on the first transfusion, while those that are DEA 1.1 positive can give their blood to other DEA 1.1.positive dogs.
The blood is then taken back to PBBuk’s stateof-the-art facility in Loughborough to be spun down in the centrifuge to separate the red blood cells and plasma. Blood types are ascertained via a simple two-minute test which is carried out at the PBBuk laboratory.
The products are then stored, ready to be supplied to veterinary practices for life saving transfusions.
To register your dog as a PBBuk donor and to find details of your nearest blood collection session, please contact PBBuk on 01509 232 222 or visit www.petbloodbankuk.org