Animal Blood Donors Needed in the Northland

Dogs and Cats Can Be Tested to See if They're Eligable to Donate

DULUTH, Minn. – According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the United States is in need of donated blood. Experts say it’s why blood drives are so critical in every community across the Northland.

But have you ever thought about your animals when it comes to donating?

Every year thousands of humans do good by donating blood. However, when it comes to dogs and cats, local veterinarians are barking for more.

“As far as becoming eligible blood donors, it’s pretty infrequent,” said Vet Technician Jeff Marchetti.

Marchetti never knows when a patient will need life’s vital product.

“Say a dog runs away, gets hit by a car; they’re going to have massive blood loss,” said Marchetti.

For the staff at Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service in Duluth, they typically only have one pint of blood on hand.

“You never know, we’re emergency practice we don’t know what we’re going to get,” said Marchetti.

Experts say on any given day, multiple dogs or cats could need a blood transfusion.

“Most of our blood donors are actually staff animals,” said Marchetti.

Lack of animal blood donors is an issue he and his team are in the process of eliminating.

“What we’re trying to do now is branch out into the community, other veterinary hospitals to see if any of their employees want to have their dogs come in,” said Marchetti.

By reaching out to local shelters the team wants to increase interest in this life-saving opportunity.

“When they come in we’ll do complete blood count which assesses for infection, chemistry panel to assess organ function, electrolyte panel, see if there’s any metabolic disorders,” said Marchetti.

After a few minor tests, owners will know if their furry companions will be a match. Animals have special antigens and multiple types of blood.

Marchetti says once blood is donated it’s only good for 30 days.

“It’s a pretty noninvasive procedure. We do use a little bit of sedative for the dogs just so they don’t move during the procedure,” said Marchetti.

Animals must meet a checklist of requirements, be well-behaved, weight above 50 pounds, have a clean bill of health and be up to date on vaccinations.

“We actually will screen a bunch of other diseases, mostly parasitotic blood diseases,” said Marchetti.

Owners can also have their animals tested to become a plasma donor.

“Plasma is good for one year and then after that it loses some clotting factors,” said Marchetti.

All of the in-house blood work as well as the blood work sent off to another clinic is free of charge to the owner.

Animals who are between the ages of two and seven can donate.

Owners can receive up to $35 dollars per donation.

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