William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Transfusion Medicine

Transfusion Medicine Service - Frequently Asked Questions

Do animals need blood transfusions just like people?
Yes. Our pets are often subject to the same diseases, and problems, as people and will use blood products for: anemia (low blood count), clotting deficiencies, and to replace blood lost during a traumatic injury.

Do animals have different blood types?
Yes. Animals, like humans, have different blood types. This makes it necessary for many different animals to donate blood to fill the needs of our patients.

Can blood be given across species?
No. Blood types are species specific; dogs can only give blood to dogs, cats only to cats.

Do you check for blood types?
Yes. All donors and recipients are tested for their blood type. This is done to prevent a potentially dangerous transfusion reaction.

How are blood products given?
Blood and blood products are given through an intravenous catheter, a small plastic tube fed directly into a vein. All patients are monitored very closely during transfusion to watch for signs transfusion reactions.

Can my dog become a blood donor?
All canine blood donors must: be 1-8 years old be in excellent general health be over 55 pounds be current on vaccinations be on flea & tick heartworm preventative never have been pregnant have good temperament never have had a blood transfusion.

How long does it take for my dog to donate blood?
The first visit lasts about one hour. During this time, we will perform initial blood work, free of charge, to determine eligibility for donation. Additional visits will be approximately ½ hour in length.

Can I be present during my dog's donation?
Yes. We encourage you to take measures to make your dog feel most comfortable. Some owners prefer to remain outside of the donation room. We leave this decision up to you.

How do I make an appointment for my dog to donate?
Appointments can be made through the VMTH Reception desk at 530-752-1393 x.421. Currently, we have appointments available Monday, Wednesday & Friday mornings, and have limited flexibility for other scheduling times.

I can't stay for the appointment. Can my dog still donate?
We have a small amount of space to house blood donors during the day. If you would like to donate, but are unable to stay through the appointment, we are able to keep your dog here at the hospital for the day (8am-5pm). Your dog will be housed in a large, single-occupancy cage with food, water & bedding.

Are there any perks to donating?
Aside from a small 'doggie bag' sent home on the day of the appointment & the joy of saving lives, dogs that donate more than 4 times in a one year period are eligible to receive free blood from the VMTH in the event that they are in need. This is limited to treatment performed at the VMTH and cannot be transferred to another pet.

Is there any special care after donation?
Most dogs have no adverse reaction to blood donation, aside from general lethargy. This is short lived and should last no longer than one day. We discourage the use of neck leads for 24 hours after donation, as this increases the risk of bleeding from the donation site. If you notice anything unusual with your pet after donation, please call your regular veterinarian or the VMTH at 530-752-1393 for medical help.

Do you sell blood products to other veterinary clinics?
No. The VMTH does not have clearance from the FDA to sell blood products to outside sources. We will gladly accept patient transfers for blood product therapy.