Transfusion Program

Blood Donor Program






A donation of blood means giving the gift of life to an animal that is sick or injured. The demand for blood products continues to increase and we need the help of willing canine volunteers to meet this need. Give your dog a chance to be someone’s hero.

Griffey

Griffey




Canine Blood Donor Program

How Many Lives Has Your Dog Saved Today? 

Why do dogs need blood transfusions?

Dogs may need blood transfusions for different reasons. Your dog’s blood is made of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Blood can be separated into these various components so that the specific transfusion needs of your dog can be met. The most common transfusions involve the use of red blood cells or plasma.

Red blood cells are used in the treatment of anemia (low red blood cell count). Red blood cells may be needed following an accident or during surgery when blood is lost. They are also needed when your dog’s body cannot produce enough red blood cells by itself or when diseases cause the body to destroy its own red blood cells.

Plasma contains proteins or enzymes which help to clot the blood. It can be used to treat bleeding due to liver disease or bleeding seen with the accidental ingestion of rodent poisons. Plasma is also used when the protein or albumin of the patient becomes very low. Another component of plasma, cryoprecipitate, is used in the treatment of hemophilia or in other inherited bleeding problems.

Bebop

Bebop







Do dogs have blood types?

Blood types are determined by molecules (proteins and carbohydrates) on the surface of the red blood cells. Dogs have at least six well characterized blood types, also known as dog erythrocyte antigens (DEA). The antigens are DEA 1.1,1.2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. The blood type considered most important in dogs is DEA 1.1. Dogs that are negative for DEA 1.1 can give blood to dogs that are DEA 1.1 negative or positive, but dogs that are DEA 1.1 positive can only give blood safely to dogs that are DEA 1.1 positive. Dogs that are negative for DEA 1.1 and the majority of other blood types are considered “universal” blood donors.

The majority of dogs are DEA 1.1 positive and only a small percentage of dogs are “universal” donors. A predisposition to being DEA 1.1 positive or negative exists in some breeds. Breeds more likely to be DEA 1.1 negative include Greyhounds, Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Pit Bulls. Breeds more commonly DEA 1.1 positive are Golden Retrievers and Labradors.

Buster

Buster




Can my dog donate?

Donor dogs must be:

  •  Healthy and Happy
  •  Greater than 60 lbs
  •  Between 1-6 yrs old
  •  Able to lay still for 10 minutes

We ask our donors to commit to the program for two years or about 12 collections.

If you have a dog that meets the requirements above and are interested in participating, please complete this form. Completed forms or questions can be sent to: TransfusionService@vetmed.wsu.edu or Transfusion Services, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-7060 




What is a donation like?

Our donors come in once every two months to donate. We use the same equipment that is used in human medicine. Blood is collected from the jugular vein and collections take between 5-10 minutes. We take 450 mls of blood which is equivalent to about 2 measuring cups. After the collection the dogs get lots of treats and praise as well as a high energy meal. The total time your dog spends with us is about 30 minutes.




What happens to the blood?

After the whole blood is collected it is spun in a centrifuge to separate the red cells from the plasma. Plasma contains important clotting factors and other proteins. 450 mls of blood can be separated into two units of packed red blood cells and two units of plasma. This means a single donation could potentially help 4 dogs! Packed red blood cells can be kept refrigerated for 5 weeks and plasma can be kept frozen for a year.




How do I start?

During your initial visit with us we will take a small blood sample to determine your dog’s blood type and assess your dog's personality. If your dog has the right blood type for the program your dog will be screened for blood-borne diseases and will go through a training program to become accustomed to the process of the blood collection, so that it will be a positive experience. 




Is this blood safe?

All of the donor dogs are screened for a number of blood-borne infectious diseases to ensure only healthy dogs enter the program. Many of our donors have a “universal” blood type, so there is less risk of a transfusion reaction in the patient. Other donors have the more common DEA 1.1 positive blood type and so are compatible with a large percentage of recipients. Before all transfusions blood from the donor and blood from the recipient are cross-matched to ensure that they are compatible.

The blood is collected in sterile plastic bags and is handled and stored in much the same way as human blood. Each bag has an expiration date and is destroyed after it expires.




How are dogs transfused?

Before blood or blood products are given to your dog, your veterinarian will generally perform a cross-match to ensure that the blood is compatible with your dog. Blood is then given slowly through a special filter into the vein. The speed of transfusion and how much blood is given will vary with the needs and size of the animal.


Are dogs at risk from transfusions?

This blood has been collected properly from healthy, universal donor dogs, and the risks from the transfusion itself are minimal. Some dogs may develop a fever or mild facial swelling during or after transfusion. This can be treated by your veterinarian. Dogs with serious illnesses getting repeated transfusions are more likely to develop transfusion reactions. Your veterinarian can answer questions about the risks involved in these special cases.

Lola

Lola




Where is the blood kept until a dog needs it?

Blood products are stored in a special blood bank refrigerator or freezer in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Washington State University.




How is the Veterinary Transfusion Medicine program supported?

The WSU Program in Veterinary Transfusion Medicine and the WSU Transfusion Service was started in 1988 with the help of a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The transfusion service continues today, with support provided through the sale of blood products. Additional contributions are always welcomed to defray the costs of donor dog blood testing and health care.




Contacting Us

Please take the time to consider if your dog could be a WSU blood donor. If you would like more information about the program and how your dog could save lives you can contact:

Contact the blood donor transfusion service  (email)

Phone number (509) 335-0751  
Mailing address 

Transfusion Services
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-7060








Feline Blood Donor Program

How Many Lives Has Your Cat Saved Today? 

Dogs aren't the only animals that need blood transfusions. Cats often need blood transfusions for the same reasons as dogs. 


Zuko

Zuko




Do cats have blood types?

Cats also have their own unique blood types. Compared to dogs, cat blood types are much simpler. Cats are either type A, type B, or rarely type AB. Type A is the most common blood type comprising 90-95% of the cat population in the United States. While B cats are uncommon, it is extremely important that they be given type B blood. Less than 1 ml of blood from a type A cat that is given to a type B cat can cause a transfusion reaction strong enough to result in death. Cats that are type AB can receive blood from either type A or type B cats.

 
Tony

Tony




Can my cat donate?

The majority of our feline donors are type A. Only a small number of type B cats are needed in the program since type B blood is needed less often for transfusions. 

Donor cats must be:

  •  Healthy and Happy
  •  Greater than 10 lbs, but preferably over 12 lbs
  •  Between 1-6 yrs old
  •  Friendly and easy to handle

If you have a cat that meets the requirements above and are interested in participating, please complete this formCompleted forms or questions can be sent to: TransfusionService@vetmed.wsu.edu or Transfusion Services, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-7060 

Rigo

Rigo




What is a donation like for the cat?

Our cat donors come in once every three months to donate. It is more challenging to keep cats still during collections so donors are anesthetized during the process. Blood is collected from the jugular vein and collections take between 5-10 minutes. Cats can donate up to 20% of their total blood volume during each collection. That means that cats greater than 10 lbs can give 55 mls of blood. Cats are given a health check before each donation, monitored carefully during the collection, and watched over by a technician as they recover from anesthesia. Each blood donation can be separated into a unit of plasma and a unit or packed red blood cells.




For more information contact

Please take the time to consider if your cat could be a blood donor. If you would like more information about the program and how your cat could save lives you can contact

Contact the blood donor transfusion service  (email)

Phone number (509) 335-0751  
Mailing address 

Transfusion Services
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-7060

 
Washington State University