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Blood-donor dogs could save another pet’s life

It’s often easy to understand that people need blood, but local veterinarians also hope Quad Cities-area dog owners can help them keep a blood supply available for other dogs.

The Animal Emergency Center on State Street in Bettendorf has a small number of dogs that donate on a regular basis, but they’re looking for more.

“She’s a very good patient for us,” Dr. Bruce Benge said of one donor dog named Roxi. “She’s very calm. She usually lays there pretty still during the donation process.”

The procedure only takes about five minutes, but the dogs usually rest a while when the donation is complete.

Part two of the blood donation process involves the recipient.

Moline resident Stephanie Acri’s dog, Jake, has a problem with red blood cells and needed a transfusion.  Thanks to previous donations, Jake got the much-needed blood and, veterinarian Dr. Julie Klauer said, he was responding well to it.

Acri says the blood donation may have saved Jake’s life.

“Really the only option for him to survive was to have this transfusion,” Acri said. “He was getting sicker and sicker, and the medicine didn’t have time to work, so the transfusion bought him time.”

Dr. Benge says that most dogs can donate blood, but dogs with a universal blood type work the best. Like humans, dogs have a variety of blood types.  Donor dogs must weigh 50 pounds or more, and be between two and nine years old.

“Donors should be vaccinated (although not within 10-14 days before donation) and free of infections and parasites, especially blood borne disease,” according to dogblooddonors.com.  A standard canine donation is 450ml, or just under one pint of blood.

“It’s important to have a consistent set of donors, because canine blood only has a shelf-life of about 30 to 35 days, and the supply needs to be replenished so it is on hand when animals need it. Some veterinary clinics don’t need blood very often, so they don’t keep it on hand. That’s when the regional and national blood banks have to fill the gap,” according to the Humane Society.

A dog gets a physical exam every time they give blood, and they get checked for other health problems during that exam.  It takes about 45 minutes for a dog to donate blood.  To avoid anemia in a donor dog, repeat donations are at least two months apart.

You can get more information by calling Animal Emergency Center at 563-344-9599.

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