A new video from BBC South Today demonstrates how dogs, like people, are capable of donating blood for use in transfusions for surgeries and other emergencies. A dog owner in the video explains that one round of donation can save as many as four other dogs, which, as he says, “is quite incredible.”
The requirements for blood donation may differ slightly based on where you live, but Seattle-based veterinarian Beth Davidow, director of medical quality for BluePearl animal hospital and founder of the pet blood bank ACCES, told HuffPost the basic requirements in the U.S. are the same as those described in the BBC video. At her bank, staff typically accept blood from both cats and dogs between the ages of one and six, and stop taking donations from animal past the age of 9.
There’s also a weight requirement for dogs, thanks to the fact that a pup needs to be large enough to fill a bag not intended for canine donations.
“There’s no specific blood bag made for dogs, so we’re using human blood bags,” Davidow said. “A 50-pound dog can donate safely the amount that will fill a blood bag.”
Worried the process might be uncomfortable for your pet? Davidow and the dog owners in the video seem to agree that it can actually be quite enjoyable. Dogs are given treats and toys during their appointment, and, according to Davidow, they “actually like it more the longer they do it.”
The process of preparing a dog for blood donation is simple.
“It’s just like if you or I were to give blood,” Davidow said. “You wanna make sure you eat, you don’t do something crazy after because you can be a little bit tired the next day. But many people tell us they can’t tell any difference at all afterward.”
There are more pet blood banks now than when Davidow founded ACCES in 2004, but she told Huffpost there’s still a shortage around the country. That could be due to a lack of awareness, something Davidow said goes across the board with veterinary medicine.
“We don’t realize that dogs and cats get similar types of diseases, that they have surgery, that they get cancer,” she said. “It just never crosses their mind.”
Here’s hoping videos like this one spread more awareness. Head to PetPlace to find a pet blood bank near you.