Did you know dogs can donate blood, too? Calling all hero’s

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Did you know just like humans, dogs can also donate blood? There seems to be very little advertising even though there are blood shortages all over.  On average there are about 6.8 million human donors in the USA each year. It is said that someone needs blood in the USA every 2 seconds (1). Although there are no such statistics for dogs, there are currently 70-80 million dogs owned (not including strays) in the USA; 46% of US homes have a dog (2). Dogs just like humans have several different blood types including the universal “O negative”.  So if your pooch is willing, let him or her be a hero like yourself.


Military Working Dog School by JHTNS-DMA, on Flickr
Military Working Dog School” (CC BY 2.0) by  JHTNS-DMA 


Now you might think giving blood is going to be painful or a hassle but it is not. It can be seen as a little vacation for your dog.

Here is the normal process according to the Humane Society:

The process: hugs and treats

During the 45-minute process, Fricke says, “the technicians give Ripley as much attention, hugs and petting as she can stand. They gently lift her onto a table, where one technician wraps her body in a secure bear hug while the other shaves a small spot on her neck and draws the blood.”  

Worried that donating blood is hard on Ripley? Don’t.

“The fact that she gets to lick peanut butter and gets treats during the entire procedure seems to more than make up for any concerns or discomfort,” Fricke continued. “In fact, I’d venture to guess you’ve never met a dog happier to go to the ‘V-E-T’!”

Though Ripley doesn’t need them, some dogs get fluids administered afterward to prevent them from being weak or having a drop in blood pressure.

“Afterward, aside from a small hairless spot, you would never know that she had just donated blood, and there are no adverse effects,” Fricke said (3). If you thought giving blood was a cinch, it is easier for dogs. Since their heads are at the same height as their heart, their blood pressure normalizes faster (5).

The process is similar in many other Vet offices or blood banks. My dog personally loves attention, being coddled, pet and especially peanut butter so it is a free vacation. Normally, you can take this type of vacation every 3 months.

While different places might have different requirements, the majority are similar to VCA Northwest process:

Eligibility Requirements
To become a canine blood donor, a dog must:

  • Be friendly with a good temperament
  • Be from 1 to 6 years of age
  • Be in good physical condition and free of parasites
  • Weigh at least 50 pounds
  • Be current on vaccinations
  • Have never received a blood transfusion
  • Not be used for breeding
  • Be taking no medication except heartworm, flea preventative, or thyroid medication (4).


If a doggy vacation and the satisfaction of helping a fellow dog lover, there might be some incentives. Some places like U-vet due to the demand for donors will “offer your pet FREE regular blood tests and veterinary examinations to ensure that your dog stays healthy and other generous gifts e.g. Free take home treats, dog food” (6).
Please inquire at your next vet visit, veterinary college or online. Here are some known blood blanks.


(1) Blood Facts and Statistics | American Red Cross. (2016). American Red Cross. Retrieved 15 August 2016, from http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics

(2) US Pet Ownership Statistical Breakdown. (2012). KC DOG BLOG. Retrieved 15 August 2016, from http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2012/11/us-pet-ownership-statistical-breakdown.html

(3) Life-Savers: Dogs Who Donate Blood : The Humane Society of the United States . (2016). Humanesociety.org. Retrieved 15 August 2016, from http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2012/11/blood_donor_dogs_112012.html?referrer

(4) Specialists, V. (2016). More – Blood Bank in Clackamas, OR | VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists.Vcaspecialtyvets.com. Retrieved 15 August 2016, from http://www.vcaspecialtyvets.com/northwest-veterinary-specialists/more/blood-bank

(5) How your dog could be a blood donor. (2013). Best Health Magazine Canada. Retrieved 16 August 2016, from http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/pet-health/how-your-dog-could-be-a-blood-donor/

(6) Your dog could save lives! – Dog Blood Donor Program. (2016). U-vet.com.au. Retrieved 16 August 2016, from http://www.u-vet.com.au/news/Donor-blood-saves-lives-pets-animals


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