Donate blood, save life!


Blood donation is priceless and a gesture of good will in saving other dog’s life! Here are FAQs on blood donation.
Dr GR Baranidharan
Blood transfusions have always been an emergency procedure and a life saving attempt in veterinary practice for the small animals. There is often increased incidence of puppies with severe anaemia encountered by veterinarians on an emergency situation.
Once you have the kind heart and willingness to donate blood from your dog, these are a few important points to be considered to see your pet fits for an ideal blood donor.
Q: I am willing to donate blood from my pet dog, is my dog eligible for blood donation?
A: Your pet dog –

  • Should be 1 to 8 years old.
  • Should be clinically healthy and free from diseases.
  • Should weigh a minimum of 23 kg.
  • Should have been regularly vaccinated and dewormed.
  • Should be friendly.
  • If female, then shouldn’t be pregnant or shouldn’t have had puppies.
  • Shouldn’t have donated blood within three months.
  • Shouldn’t have received blood before.

Q: How is the blood collected from my dog?
A: For friendly, co-operative dogs, no sedation is required for blood collection. If your dog is non-cooperative or restless then blood collection will be done under sedation, in which case your pet should be brought in an empty stomach.
Usually three assistants are needed for blood collection, one person holds the dog’s hind quarters and the hind legs while one person holds the front legs with the neck extended in lateral recumbency (lying down on the side- position). A small area on the neck side is clipped and blood is collected from the jugular vein using a blood collection bag.
Normally it takes 10 to 15 minutes for the blood collection and a minimum of 350 ml whole blood can be collected from a 23 kg healthy dog. Once the collection is finished, the phlebotomy site (the place where the needle was inserted) is held compressed with sterile cotton for a minimum of two minutes to avoid haematoma (swelling).
Q: Will proper disposables be used for blood collection?
A: The blood bag comes with an attached needle, hence each bag will be used for each dog and after transfusion of the blood, the bag will be properly disposed. The blood bag cannot be re-used.
Q: How much blood will be collected from my dog?
A: Around 350 to 400 ml of whole blood can be collected depending on the donor dog’s weight.
Q: Will my pet feel unwell after blood donation?
A: If your dog is sedated, then it will take some time for recovery. Normally, blood collection will cause no harm to your pet and they would resume normalcy soon.
Q: Should I feed my dog after blood donation?
A: Like human, dogs can be fed after blood collection. Intravenous fluids (decided by your vet) are sometimes given after the collection to compensate the volume loss.
Q: Do I have to give any medicines for blood production?
A: There is no additional supplements necessary unless or until your veterinarian decides to give some haematinics (medicines that increase blood production). The whole blood including blood components will be progressively replenished in the dog’s system within four weeks of time.
Q: Are there blood groups for dogs, like humans?
A: Yes, there are more than seven blood groups out of which DEA1.1 type is the most significant for blood transfusions. The dog blood group can be determined by in-house kits which are expensive and not commonly available in India. However, many clinics have begun to import these kits.
Q: What if my dog belongs to DEA1.1 –ve group?
A: If your pet dog is tested DEA 1.1 –ve, then her blood can be donated to any other dog for multiple transfusions. While, DEA1.1. +ve dogs can donate to DEA 1.1 +ve recipient dogs.
Q: My dog is a German Shepherd. Will his blood be useful for other breeds?
A: Dog blood groups are not breed specific. Any breed can donate blood to any other breed.
Q: How will my pet’s blood be used?
A: Your dog’s blood will be used to save critically ill and anaemic dogs.
Q: How often can my dog donate blood a year?
A: Dogs can donate blood once in every four months.
(Dr GR Baranidharan (PhD) is assistant professor at Madras Veterinary College, Chennai).