Sometimes pets have diseases, disorders, or traumatic injuries causing significant blood loss that requires a blood transfusion in order for the pet to survive. The most common reasons for a transfusion are autoimmune hemolytic anemia, trauma from being hit by a car, and parvovirus infections.
Here at Abilene Animal Hospital, blood transfusions are sporadic, so we do not keep blood collections on hand. We have a team of large breed dogs that are occasionally available as donors. Our current team includes: Finnick, Stella, Bonnie, Bit, and Montana. They are all Labradors or mixed breed large dogs owned by doctors and staff of Abilene Animal Hospital. With the number of dogs on the team and the demand, most donors give blood about twice per year at the most. We also occasionally need cat donors, but that need is much less frequent.
When the need for blood arises, we check to see who’s turn it is on the list and whether that dog is available or not.
Today was Finnick’s turn. Finnick is a 3 year old yellow lab. This is his third donation. We check to be sure he is feeling well and has been kept up-to-date on his vaccinations and heartworm preventative.
Next we sedate and prep the donor. Since Finnick won’t sit in a chaise lounge and squeeze a ball like we do, he must be sedated for the procedure. The jugular vein must be prepped for sterile collection of the blood.
Five hundred milliliters of blood is collected from Finnick’s jugular vein while he is sedated.
The technician rocks the blood back and forth so it mixes with the anticoagulant that keeps the blood from clotting.
As the bag gets full, the veterinarian prepares to remove the catheter.
The technician gives Finnick a nail trim and any other pampering he might need while he is sedated. When he wakes up, he is a little groggy for a couple of hours, but enjoys the treats and hugs he gets when he returns home to his family. All in a day’s work for a donor dog!