After my interview with Jessie last month
I received a lot of questions from readers.
So I contacted Pet Blood Bank UK to help me with those answers.
Tell me a bit about your organisation.
Launched in 2007, Pet Blood Bank UK is the only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for all veterinary practitioners across the UK.
Our products and services are available to all UK veterinary professionals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year ensuring that blood is accessible when it is needed most.
Just like people, sick and injured animals may need blood transfusions and in many cases, blood transfusions can save a pet's life.
Every one of our lifesaving donors makes a huge difference.
With every unit of donated blood having the potential to help save the lives of up to four other dogs.
How long have animals been blood donors?
Pet Blood Bank launched after a change in legislation in 2005 made it possible to collect, process and store pet blood.
Before this, pets could donate blood in emergencies but it wasn’t able to be stored – itwas just going from one animal straight into another.
The change in law meant that we could launch the UK’s first animal blood bank, ensuring that blood is always accessible to vets when they need it without the stress of having to source a donor at short notice.
What animals can give blood? (cats, dogs etc.)
Our license covers dogs and New World Camelids (alpacas) at the moment, however, we are hoping to expand to other species in the future.
Are there different types of blood? (like humans)
Yes, pets have different blood types just like humans. In dogs,
DEA 1 (which stands for Dog Erythrocyte Antigen) is the main blood group that we test for in the UK, and dogs can either be positive or negative.
Around 70% of dogs are DEA 1 Positive.
DEA 1 Negative, on the other hand, is less common as only around 30% of dogs are this type, but like O negative in humans, this blood can be given to any dog, so is in much higher demand.
This is why we encourage vets, where possible, to blood type their patients so that positive blood is used where possible, reserving the supply of negative blood for those dogs with a negative blood type that need it.
Can one species give blood to another?
As all animals have unique blood types, blood shouldn't be transferred between species.
How often can animals give blood?
Our canine donors can give blood up to six times a year.
How do animals become blood donors?
We are always looking for more dogs to come forward as lifesaving donors!
In order to become a donor, there are certain criteria a dog needs to meet.
Dogs should be:
- Fit and healthy
- Between one and eight years’ old
- Weigh more than 25kg
- Have a good temperament
- Have never travelled abroad
- Not on any medication
If your dog meets our criteria, we would love to hear from you.
What happens at one of your donation sessions?
Much like the human blood service, owners kindly bring their dogs along to donate at one of our sessions across the UK.
We hold 4-5 sessions a week in different locations throughout the country and work on an appointment system.
Your appointment is split into three key parts:
Pre-donation health check:
This is where your dog is checked over by one of our fully qualified vets.
The check involves a physical examination, the clipping of two small areas of your dog’s neck, and a small blood sample which is checked to ensure your dog is fit to donate.
If your dog passes the initial checks, you will be shown to the donation area where a fully qualified phlebotomist will collect about 450ml of your dog's blood.
This takes 5-10 minutes.
After donating, we’ll ask you to stay at the donation venue for a small amount of time to allow your lifesaver to have a drink, something to eat and to be observed by our team.
Your dog will receive a goody bag which includes an “I’m a Lifesaver” bandana and tag to thank them.
They will also get to pick out a toy to take home and we’ll take their picture for our social media pages.
Anything else important I didn’t know to ask about?
As mentioned above, negative blood is in high demand and so we are always looking for more negative donors to come forward.
Our studies on blood types have shown that certain breeds are more likely to be negative blood type including:
German Wirehaired Pointer
Flat Coated Retriever
English Bull Terriers.
If you would like to learn more about Pet Blood Bank or to register your dog to become a lifesaving donor, please visit