Call for life-saving dog blood donors


Dogs are needed to renew blood supply at Murdoch University’s Animal Hospital Blood Bank. Photo by Hannah Lim on Unsplash

Vets are calling for dog blood donations, critically needed for saving man’s best friend.

A bit like the Red Cross, Murdoch University’s Animal Hospital Blood Bank plays a life-saving role in supplying blood for cats and dogs in need of a transfusion.

But Murdoch’s animal blood bank coordinator Clare Gaughan says many of the donor dogs who regularly donate are reaching retirement age.

Ms Gaughan says that just like in humans, not all dogs can be donors and the bank needs a good supply of different blood types.

“Patients come into our ICU and surgery departments in need of blood for many different reasons such as motor vehicle accidents or dog fight wounds, and immune mediated diseases such as Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia where they may need more than one transfusion,” Ms Gaughan says.

Murdoch University animal blood bank needs dog donors. Picture credit: The Animal Hospital at Murdoch University

“Without the kindness of the public coming forward these lives saved would not be possible.”Cats and dogs can donate blood every 8 to 12 weeks, and the animals are screened.

Emma Vidler’s staffordshire terrier Mosi suffered horrific blood loss from a gastric ulceration last year and she says without the life-saving blood provided by the bank, her beloved pooch would not still be here.

The problem for the bank is that dogs retire from the program quicker than they are recruited because animals must meet strict requirements including appropriate body weight, being fit and healthy and having a relaxed and calm temperament.

WA Veterinary Equine Dentistry veterinarian Dr Martin Dolinscheck says the donation process is quick and dogs don’t mind too much.

“It’s a simple procedure, and the dogs tolerate it well, they get lots of pats, treats and a bandana afterwards,” Dr Dolinscheck said.

“Floss walks into her donations wagging her tail.”

Dr Dolinscheck’s red cloud kelpie Floss is a regular donor, and came up as a match for Mosi at the crucial time.

Dr Dolinscheck said he personally has been donating blood for 25 years.

“When I found out about the blood bank and Floss was suitable, it was just a no-brainer,” Dr Dolinscheck said.

“You can have the best surgeon and medical team in the world, but without the blood transfusion, the dog could still die.”

Ms Gaughan says the blood is packed into red blood cells and plasma to make donations goes further.

Requirements for Dogs

  • Between 1 and 7 years old
  • 20kg, or greater
  • Healthy and of appropriate body weight with a calm and relaxed temperament
  • Current on flea preventative, ideally on heartworm preventative.
  • Current vaccinations
  • Not on raw food diet

Requirements for Cats

  • Between 1 and 8 years old
  • Ideally 5kg, or greater, we will accept 4.5kg if very suited to being a donor
  • Healthy with a relaxed calm temperament
  • Current on flea preventative
  • Current vaccinations
  • Ideally donor cats are indoor cats. However, cats that are indoor/outdoor cats can be considered.

All potential cat and dog donors receive a health screen prior to being accepted onto the program. As part of the program, each donor must have an initial routine blood screen, followed by a yearly test. This is essential for the safety of the donor and to ensure a safe product for the transfusion recipient. Cats and dogs can donate blood every 8–12 weeks.

To find out more about if your pet can donate, email [email protected] or  call 1300 652 494.