Pet owners encouraged to bring their dogs to blood donation day

Canine blood donor Seamus
Canine blood donor Seamus
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An SOS has gone out for dogs to take part in a canine blood donation session organised by vets at a Preston college.

Bilsborrow-based Myerscough College is hoping for a steady flow of visitors next month when it hosts a canine blood donation day.

Doggie blood transfusions are being increasingly performed in veterinary practices as understanding of canine transfusion medicine has increased in recent years.

One blood donation taken from a donor dog can potentially save the lives of four critically ill dogs as the blood is separated into various constituent parts to transfuse to dogs with specific conditions.

Helen Rooney, HE lecturer in veterinary nursing at Myerscough College, is organising the event in conjunction with Pet Blood Bank UK.

She said: “The patients that need a blood transfusion are very varied. They may have been involved in a road traffic accident, have had a major surgical procedure or have a medical condition that causes them to destroy their own blood cells.’’

“Regardless of the reason for the transfusion, these dogs are all critically ill and the chance of surviving with a blood transfusion is significantly increased and you can actually see them return to life as they receive the transfusion. It is truly amazing to see.’’

Any dog can be a blood donor, providing they meet certain criteria. The dog must be between one and eight years old and weigh at least 25kg. It must be healthy and not be on medication or have received a transfusion themselves. The animal must also have never travelled abroad.

Helen said the process of the dog giving blood is very similar to human donation and added: “It takes about half an hour from the dog arriving to going back home, and it is not really much different to a human giving blood.

“On arrival the donor dog is greeted and weighed and receives a health check by a veterinary surgeon. A tiny volume of blood is taken to check the dog has enough blood cells to provide the donation. The blood is then collected from a large neck vein that has had a small area of hair removed and has been cleaned. The donation takes about 10 minutes and during this time the donor dog lies on a big mattress having their tummy tickled.’’

The blood donation session, planned for Wednesday March 19, will be run by Pet Blood Bank UK, the UK’s only blood bank where veterinary practices can obtain blood and blood products for their patients that have been collected and screened with rigorous process to ensure they are safe to administer.

“The Pet Blood Bank staff are very experienced and it is amazing to see how the donor dogs really do not seem to mind the donation process. After the blood has been collected the donor dog is taken to the recovery room, where they are fed and fussed, before going back home with their blood donor goodie bag, where they rest for 24 hours.’’

The team will also microchip the dog if necessary and the pets will all get a veterinary health check and full blood screen to identify any early signs of internal illness free of charge.

All the teaching team at the Myerscough School of Veterinary Nursing have worked in veterinary practice and have seen for themselves the difference a blood transfusion can make to a dog’s recovery.

Helen adds: ‘’Some of us have even got dogs that wouldn’t be here without a donor dog having donated a small volume of their blood. Now that we have the facilities to host a blood donation session we felt strongly that we wanted to be involved and several of the staff members’ dogs were the first to be recruited.’’

The session is being held at the college’s Veterinary Nursing Centre.

You can find more information and register online at, or by emailing .