Pet blood banks an important tool for veterinarians

U.S. & World

Almost everyone has heard of a blood drive. People line up to give blood that can help save someone else’s life. But have you ever heard of a blood donation for your dog? It’s not that common, and that’s causing a problem for furry friends in need across the country.

Jacqui Lenner found out how rare pet blood banks are when her beloved lab China suddenly needed emergency surgery for a tumor.

The doctor had troubling news: there was no blood.

I’m like, what do you mean? Like there’s no blood? Where would you know how is there no blood? Lenner said.

Lenner did her own legwork and managed to find one unit of blood an hour’s drive away costing hundreds of dollars. She bought it.

We were able to use this one unit of blood, and you know, she made it through the night, and we used that blood and then the blood ran out, Lenner said. That point she was very sick and just not strong enough to make it, and she went into cardiac arrest, and she passed away.

For all the things we do for our pets, few of us realize how much pets could help each other. Dogs only have two blood types, same with cats. But they can’t donate to each other, and human blood doesn’t work. Meantime, there are only a handful of pet blood banks nationally, and supply and demand are completely out of whack.

Blue Pearl Emergency Pet Hospital started its own mini blood bank in New Jersey, buying the equipment and training staff, because too often they were coming up short.

I could call on one of our commercial blood banks that we use routinely and order a certain type of dog blood, and they could have it to me within four days, or they can tell me well, we’ll get it in tour to four weeks, said Blue Pearl Vet Tech Allison Kwasek.

Blue Pearl started by using the pets of employees as donors. Annual screening of a donor can cost $1,200, a service the hospital does for free. And to lure donors, they have a Facebook page and treats.

We offer a month’s supply of dog food which owners are pretty excited about because that is a costly thing, said Tracey Horycz-Sanguiliano, Blue Pearl Hospital Administrator.

One donation can help three to four pets.

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