College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Medical Center

Blood Donor Program

Blood Donor Program

The Companion Animal Blood Bank needs you (and your pet)!
The Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) maintains a network of rescue Greyhounds and volunteer dogs and cats to provide blood products to our patients. Our animal blood bank functions like a human blood bank. Healthy dogs and cats can help less fortunate animals by becoming blood donors for our program.

Why do animals need blood?
Critically ill veterinary patients with cancer, anemia, underlying clotting problems, or trauma (i.e., internal bleeding from a motor vehicle accident) often need blood or plasma. Blood products can be a life-saving treatment, and are provided by animals belonging to our veterinarians, students, staff, volunteer client and non-client owned animals. We are currently looking for volunteer dogs and cats to donate blood to VMC patients.

What happens when my dog or cat donates blood?
First, we need to make sure your animal is healthy enough to donate. Please see the listed requirements below. If your pet qualifies, please contact the Companion Animal Blood Donor Program at umnblooddonor@gmail.com. Initial blood screening tests will be performed if your pet qualifies, along with a preliminary physical examination. All these blood results are available for your own record, and are valued at approximately $600/blood donor. To qualify for this screening, you must commit your pet to blood donation at least six to eight times a year for dogs and at least four to six times per year for cats for the last 2 years.

Can my dog become a blood donor?
The following guidelines must be enforced to ensure safe blood products for our patients.

  • Must be friendly and happy to meet people
  • Must weigh over 50 pounds (without being overweight)
  • Must be current on vaccinations (must provide proof) and cannot be receiving any medications other than heartworm, flea, and tick preventive
  • Must be on heartworm, flea, and tick preventive during the six-month flea and tick season
  • Must be healthy and without a heart murmur
  • Must be between 1 year and 6 years old when entering the program
  • Must have never received a blood transfusion nor been pregnant

Can my cat become a blood donor?

  • Must be fairly friendly, tolerate being handled, and like to be around people
  • Must weigh over 10 pounds (without being overweight)
  • Must be current on vaccinations
  • Must be healthy and not receiving any medications other than heartworm, flea, and tick preventive
  • Must be indoor-only, and all companion housemate cats must be indoor and negative for feline leukemia (FeLV) or kitty FIV
  • Cannot be exposed to any other cats (no fostering or pet-sitting of other cats)
  • Cannot have a heart murmur
  • Must be between 2 years and 6 years old when entering the program
  • Must have never received a blood transfusion nor been pregnant

What happens when my dog donates blood? How much blood is donated?
Blood donation takes about 15-30 minutes, and we often have owners drop off their pet for a few hours while they are donating. For dogs, sedation is rarely necessary. We lie your dog down on his or her side on comfortable blankets and clip an area of hair over the jugular vein. After preparing the area with a sterile scrub, blood is collected through a needle into a sterile collection set (just like when you donate blood). Dogs should be fasted for 10-12 hours prior to giving blood. Afterwards, your dog is given IV fluids through a separate catheter to replace the one pint of blood that was removed (approximately 450 mls or 16 oz. of blood). The catheter is then removed and your pet is given lots of TLC and a toy or treat to go home with.

What happens when my cat donates blood? How much blood is donated?
Cats are anesthetized with gas anesthesia. An IV catheter is placed to deliver fluids. Cats are placed on their side (or their back) on comfortable blankets and blood is collected through the jugular vein after an area is clipped, prepped, and surgically scrubbed. Approximately 55-60 mls (2 oz.) are removed from cats. Cats receive fluids under their skin to help hydrate them after they are finished donating, and also receive a treat or toy to go home with.

What are the benefits of having my pet as a blood donor?
Not only are you saving a pet's life, but you will receive other benefits such as:

  • A 20-pound bag of dog food or an 8-pound bag of cat food at the time of each donation
  • A complete physical examination
  • Extensive blood screening (with a copy for your records)
  • A twelve month supply of heartworm preventive provided by Merial if your pet donates at least six times a year
  • A twelve month supply of Frontline provided by Merial
  • A free blood typing, which means that if your pet ever needs emergency care or a blood transfusion, you'll know what blood type he or she is!

While bringing your pet in for blood donation may seem like a big commitment and a lot of work, remember you are helping save hundreds of lives a year!

We'd love to have you as part of our life-saving team! Please email our blood donor program at umnblooddonor@gmail.com, if you are interested in having your pet donate blood.

To receive all of the benefits listed above, your pet must donate at least six times a year for dogs and four times per year for cats.

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  • Last modified on June 12, 2013