Could your dog be a lifesaver?

Could your dog be a Lifesaver?

Lisa Suswain, Wagging Tails
Monday, September 24, 2018

Could your dog be a Lifesaver?

Did you know that dogs can give blood just like humans? And just like people, sick or injured animals frequently need blood transfusions to save their lives. Like many of you this year I frequented summers show with our dogs. It was at The Countryfile Live show, when the girls were enjoying a cool off in the doggy paddling pool, that I got talking with the lovely ladies from Pet Blood Bank UK.

Founded in 2007 when a change in legislation made it possible to collect, store and distribute blood, Pet Blood Bank UK is the only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for all veterinary practitioners across the UK.

Hugo relaxing on the sofa. Without receiving donated blood Hugo would have diedRun as a voluntary scheme just like the human blood service, dogs from all over the country give blood at one of their many sessions. The blood is then processed and delivered to veterinary practices when they need it most usually as a result of trauma, disease or during surgery.

Just like us dogs have different blood types. Pet Blood Bank type for DEA 1 (Dog Erythrocyte Antigen) in the UK. Dogs can either be DEA 1 negative or DEA 1 positive. From their research, 70% of dogs appear to be positive and only 30% are negative.

Negative blood can be given to any dog whereas dogs with negative blood type can only receive negative blood which makes keeping up the demand for negative blood very challenging! Negative blood is more common to certain breeds such as Dobermans, Greyhounds, Boxers, German Shepherds, Flat Coated Retrievers, Airedale Terriers Weimaraners, Lurchers, American Bulldogs, Pointer (English), English Bull Terriers and Mastiffs (various breeds).

It is vital that all donors are healthy as the welfare of both donor dogs and any blood recipients is paramount to the charity. Just like the human blood service, there are certain criteria that donors need to meet before they can donate.

In addition to being fit and healthy, to become a blood donor, a dog must be:

• Between one and eight years old

• Weigh more than 25kg

• Have a good temperament

• Have never travelled abroad

• Vaccinated

• Not on any medication

Pet Blood Bank, urgently need healthy dogs to come forward and register as blood donors to help save their canine friends. Last year, they sent out over 5,000 blood products for poorly dogs and as demand continues to grow, they are hoping more dogs will come forward to join their lifesaving community. Every unit of donated blood can help save the lives of up to four other dogs.

The donation itself only takes around 5-7 minutes but the dog also gets a full health check and time for a rest, some water and treats afterwards, as well as a goodie bag to take home! One dog who knows the benefits of receiving blood is cockerpoo Hugo. Hugo attended his vets after his owner Becky noticed a change in the colour of his faeces. He was also quieter than normal, off his food and his gums were pale.

A full blood screen revealed abnormalities with his red blood cell and platelet levels. Further investigation confirmed a low red blood cell count and indications of Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA), a condition where the body attacks its own red blood cells. Hugo urgently needed a transfusion. In total Hugo received two blood transfusions which helped save his life.

Hugo’s owner Becky said:

‘You don’t realise how something is so important until you are faced with it yourself. Hugo became very ill very quickly, and had it not been for the fantastic dogs who give blood, he wouldn’t have made it. Since Hugo’s illness I have put a Facebook thread up to encourage parents to take their dogs to donate blood. My husband has now even been inspired by these four-legged life savers to join me and become a blood donor too. I cannot tell you how much this special service means to me, my husband and my baby Hugo. The donors deserve medals; they are all my hero’s.’

Clara enjoying the paddling pool hospitality the Pet Blood Bank charity at Countryfile Live

As our girls were chilling out in the paddling pool, enjoying all the fuss passers-by were giving them, it was commented what great donors they could potentially be. It’s certainly something we will be discussing with our local Vets to see if they’d be suitable donors.

To find out more about how your dog can become a lifesaver, please visit

Owner of beloved Golden Retrievers, Lottie and Clara, Lisa Suswain is the Founding Director of home dog boarding franchise Wagging Tails and a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.