Meet the dogs providing blood to veterinary hospitals across the UK
Did you know that, much like humans, dogs can give blood too? To celebrate World Blood Donor Day 2016, we visited Pet Blood Bank UK to meet the doggy donors who make life saving treatments possible for other dogs.
How does blood donation work for dogs? The appointment is split into two parts:
Health and suitability check with a fully qualified vet
The vet will go through the following process with the dog prior to any donation going ahead:
Dogs must be aged between 1 and 9 years old.
Firstly the dogs are weighed. Pooches must weigh at least 25kgs to be eligible to donate.
Dogs must be microchipped. This is to confirm the dogs’ identification before donating.
Undertake a physical examination of the dog and take its health history.
Carefully clip and clean a small area of the dog's neck and leg so a small sample of blood can be taken for testing.
If all is well, the dog will go through to the donation room where a fully qualified phlebotomist will draw about 450ml of the dogs blood. Once the donation is made the dog will be brought to the refreshments area for a well earned drink, snack and rest. Like SNBTS, the Pet Blood Bank rewards their faithful donors but instead of award badges, dogs receive thank you presents.
1st Donation - Bandana and car sticker
2nd Donation - Shopping bag
5th Donation - Lead
10th Donation - Travel water bottle
We met up with a few of the dogs and owners who came along to give blood ahead of World Blood Donor Day 2016.
Meet JJ, Zoé and Skye. JJ and Zoé are regular blood donors and puppy Skye, who is 15 weeks old, came along to the Pet Blood Bank to see what's in store for her when she grows up! Mum, Lorraine Cowan, is a breeder of German Shepherds and has been bringing her dogs to the blood bank for several years.
This is six year old rescue dog Murphy the Lurcher. His owner Nicola was inspired to bring Murphy to give blood after he was hit by a bust. Fortunately he recovered without needing any blood transfusions and is now healthy enough to help other dogs. Today, Murphy gave his 7th blood donation. Each donation can help up to four dogs so Murphy has now helped 28 other canine casualties.
Zeus the six year old black Labrador has been through the wars himself. Owner Rhona told us about his nasty habit of swallowing things he shouldn't, needing surgery to retrieve them. From seaweed slices to tennis balls, Zeus has a long and chequered history. Unfortunately, like many human blood donors, Zeus failed his initial venepuncture and couldn't give blood this time, but he'll be back in 12 weeks time.
Collie Springer cross Meg, an eight year old rescue dog, was brought along to give blood by owner Frances. Frances is all too aware of the importance of giving blood as her mother is being treated for leukaemia and is a regular recipient of human blood donations. Frances brought Meg after she saw an article on Facebook.
We also had a visit from pop royalty in the form of the Pointer Sisters, Eilidh and Faith the English Pointers. Both dogs are eight years old and have given between six and seven donations each. Mum Gillian started bringing the sisters to give blood when another one of her pets, Niamh, was seriously ill. Niamh had an autoimmune condition called immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP), also known as Evans Syndrome. She needed several blood transfusions and a bone morrow transplant. Gillian is a big supporter of the Pet Blood Bank and has recruited another six dogs. On the day, the Pointer Sisters brought along moral support in the form of their sisters Carlagh, (a rescue dog from Cyprus who was unable to give blood due to travel restrictions), and Pebbles the whippet (who was too small).
Claire and Lee brought eight year old Golden Retriever Lunar, who was giving his last donation before being retired. Lunar started donating because the previous family dog received many transfusions during treatment for cancer. Today's visit was a family affair with kids Liam and Madison accompanying Lunar during his donation. Madison was well dressed for the occasion in her scrubs, she says she wants to be a vet... or an astronaut!
Fellow NHS worker Fiona brought along her two working gun dogs, Labrador Retrievers Zephyr and Pascoe. Beautiful flame haired Zephyr added to her magnificent tally of 15 donations. Unfortunately, poor Pascoe was unable to give this time as he was 0.5kg too light - although considering how many treats he ate yesterday, he'll be back in no time. Joining them for the experience was Quincy, the nine week old Labrador puppy. Quincy is a soon-to-be blood donor and gun dog - in fact, his grandfather was gun dog world champion.
Happy-go-lucky Hudson is a black Labrador with a huge heart... and an even bigger neck. So much so, the phlebotomist had trouble finding a suitable vein. He was giving his 5th and final donation as he has reached the grand old age of retirement. Owner Carol decided to bring Hudson to give blood following a piece on dog donation on The One Show.
A huge thank you to all the staff at Pet Blood Bank UK who made our visit amazing. Special thanks to Aoife, Susan, Rawnie, Lorna, Becky and Lora for making our visit possible. Happy World Blood Donor Day! #BloodConnectsUsAll