Did you know that dogs have blood types, too? Canine blood groups are completely different from the ABO groups we are used to hearing about in humans, but there are definitely some similarities.
For instance, just like people, dogs have a specific blood type that is referred to as the “universal donor”. These are dogs whose blood does not carry a specific protein that would cause a reaction in most recipients. Certain breeds will often have a predisposition to certain blood types, so you could say that being a universal donor runs in families. A few of the common breeds that fall into this category are greyhounds, Staffordshire terriers, Dobermans, and Irish Wolfhounds.
Participation in a blood banking program not only gives your pet the chance to be a hero, but it offers many advantages for your pet and your family, as well. In order to protect the donors, blood banks will supply your pet with monthly flea and heartworm preventatives. They will perform complimentary annual health screening and vaccinations. Many of them will also provide a regular supply of premium dog food for donors. Finally, and probably most significantly, most canine blood donation programs in the United States will make your pet a priority if he is ever in need of a blood transfusion and has donated before.
Canine blood donation programs have really come a long way, and we want to encourage you to look into the blood banking services in your area. All of the programs that are currently available operate on a “volunteer” basis, meaning that your dog has to prove that he is a willing participant. Some of the most cutting edge programs also offer a “training” session that will prepare your pet for the experience. Once your dog has proven that he is ready and free of fear, he is praised during donation and all possible comfort measures are taken to ensure a positive experience.
Following donation, dogs are spoiled with treats, toys, and affection (in place of the orange juice and cookies that we humans receive for donating).
If you’re interested in finding out more about canine blood donation in your area, a great place to start is with any of the universities that offer a veterinary program. Most of the veterinary schools have some sort of blood banking program in place. You may also want to look into any emergency or specialty hospital that is near your home, since they usually have blood banking options, as well.