Canine Blood Donor – Be A Canine Hero

The first step in becoming a Canine Blood Donor.

One day I was browsing the WVRC (Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center) website and came across their blood donor program. I read about the program and thought to myself Gambler is my hero he can do this and be someone else’s hero. Since he has his AKC Master Hunter and UKC Hunting Retriever Champion titles I thought he needed another job to do and what a wonderful job this would be. From doing therapy work with him I thought he would be perfect for blood draws since the kids dress him up and he just sits there. I know he is in good health and shape so I filled out the blood donor program application, awaited a phone call and this past Thursday the ball got rolling to see if Gambler could be a canine blood donor.

Let the testing begin.

During our first appointment, Gambler was weighed, a nice technician Kaylee took his TPR (Temperature, pulse and respiration), during this time he was standing still and giving her kisses when she wasn’t listening to his heart and lungs.

Getting his vitals checked.

Once that was done Dr. Johnson the head of the blood donor program came in and introduced himself to us, he then did a complete physical exam on Gambler. Next we laid him down on his side and extended his head and neck to check out his jugular vein (this is where the blood collection will be taken), he then held his head in that position for a little bit to see how Gambler would react. The blood donation take about 7 minutes to collect 1 canine unit which is 450ml. Gambler did excellent at laying still. Dr. Johnson commented on how calm he was as most of the Chessies that come into the clinic are pretty hyper.

Dr. Johnson promised I would get a cookie after blood donating.

Once Dr. Johnson was done checking out Gamblers jugular vein he then collected blood for the pre- screening tests. 4 tubes of blood were collected while Gambler laid still the whole time. After the blood draw I walked Gambler outside to collect a urine sample as a urinalysis is part of the pre-screening tests. The blood and urine will be sent out to an outside laboratory to have all the testing done. Some tests will come back in a couple days and the blood typing will take a bit longer, we should have results in 3-4 weeks.

Collecting blood for blood typing and testing.

Hopefully Gambler will come back with normal test results and with the blood typing of a universal donor so he can enter the program.

From the WVRC website:

Blood Donor Requirements – Canine

To be considered for admission into the blood donor program at the Wisconsin
Veterinary Referral Center (WVRC), you must agree to the following:
– Allow your dog to donate blood 6 to 12 times per year (once every 1 to 2
– Remain in the program for at least 2 years.
– Be available for emergency donations.
– Allow pictures of your dog in various advertisements and on the WVRC website.

Your dog will need to have certain physical characteristics and meet certain
requirements to be considered for the blood donor program. Requirements of a
canine blood donor:
– Good disposition and tolerate venipuncture and restraint.
– Weigh at least 50 pounds (22 kilograms).
– Male or spayed nulliparous (never pregnant) female.
– No previous blood transfusions.
– Should be 1 to 8 years of age.
– Current on vaccinations for rabies, distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus,
parainfluenza and leptospirosis.
– On heartworm preventive.
– Should not be taking any medications that could pose a problem for a recipient.
– Have a normal physical exam on initial evaluation by one of the veterinarians at
the WVRC.
If your dog meets the above criteria, various laboratory tests will be performed to
ensure his/her health status and the safety of the blood donor pool. These tests will
be done at no cost to you. Some of these tests will be repeated yearly while a
member of the donor program. Laboratory evaluation:
– Universal donor (negative for the blood groups DEA 1.1, 1.2 and 7).
– Normal complete blood count, biochemical profile and urinalysis.
– Negative result for the following infectious diseases: Brucellosis, Babesia,
Heartworm Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasma, and (Trypanosomiasis and
Leishmania based on breed and travel history).

If abnormalities are found on examination or on laboratory tests, recommendations
may be made for further evaluation, diagnostics and/or treatment. Any and all
associated costs will be your responsibility and should be done with your primary
care veterinarian or with the Emergency Service of the WVRC.

If your dog is approved and admitted to the blood donor program we will arrange for
him/her to begin donations. We will try to establish a schedule, but alternate days
and times may sometimes be needed. We will confirm your donation day and time 3
to 4 days before via a telephone call and e-mail. If there are problems with the
timing or with your dog’s health please let us know then.

What happens on a donation day?
– Please be on time.
– A complete physical exam will be done to make sure there are no problems that
would prevent donation that day.
– If there are problems then we will arrange for donation on a different day.
– You will sign an authorization and consent for blood donation form.
– You may leave your dog if needed based on your schedule, or you may wait in
the lobby. Donations take 1 to 2 hours.
– A small amount of blood will be obtained for a PCV and total protein.
– A small area of fur will be shaved from the neck and the skin prepped as if for a
– Blood will be obtained from the jugular vein using a sterile needle and collection
– About 450 ml of blood will be collected.
– A bandage will be applied after the donation to allow proper clotting to occur.
– Water will be offered after the collection to replace volume.

If abnormalities are found the donation will be cancelled and rescheduled if possible.
Recommendations may be made for further evaluation, diagnostics and/or treatment.
Any and all associated costs will be your responsibility and should be done with your
primary care veterinarian or with the Emergency Service of the WVRC.

Resources: AKC Canine Health Foundation – for more information on Canine Blood Donation

5 Replies to “Canine Blood Donor – Be A Canine Hero”

  1. Emmadog

    Mom was all excited to sign us up for blood donation a couple years ago, but then we found out we are too small. Such a bummer.

  2. Tails Around the Ranch

    WAY to go, G-Man! When I found out about a local vet clinic that has this ongoing program going, I realized Sam was just over the age limit. Very disappointing as I’m sure he would have been a good candidate and stayed calm. Elsa, on the other hand will need to have more socialization before I could even consider her and even then may not be allowed to donate because of her epilepsy. Too bad, I’m a big fan of this kind of advocacy. Bravo! 🌟 for you guys.

  3. Pingback: Gambler’s Blood Donor Career Is Short Lived – Sand Spring Chesapeakes