Becoming a blood donor

Fox red labrador Bina laying on table after donating blood

Did you know that dogs can give blood, too? 

A few times mum came across an announcement on Facebook that someone was urgently looking for a dog blood donor. Unfortunately, there’s no pet blood bank in Slovenia; dogs and cats can only rely upon owners willing to help when needed. Mum started searching more about dog blood donations and she found on a Veterinary Faculty clinic website that they are looking for new blood donors. She called and made an appointment. 

To become a dog blood donor, you must be:

  • healthy and fit,
  • between two and eight years old,
  • weigh more than 25kg,
  • have a good temperament,
  • fully vaccinated and parasite free.

The blood can be taken in advance, for example before a surgery when they anticipate large bleeding can happen, for example, spleen, kidney or part of the liver removal, heart operations, etc. But there are also some urgent situations when blood donations are needed as soon as possible, for example, car accidents, rat poison intoxications, tumors bleeding… At one donation, about 15-20 ml of blood per kg can be taken at least three month apart, but mostly 450 ml.

And so we went to the clinic to test my blood type and add me to the list of donors. Just like humans, we also have different blood types. The two groups they test for are DEA 1 positive and DEA 1 negative. When a dog needs a transfusion, a unit of the same blood should be given. But, a dog that has a negative blood type can donate to a negative and also a positive blood type. A dog with a positive type can only donate to a positive blood type dog. Well, I’m a DEA 1 positive, so I can only donate my blood to a dog with the same blood type. They put me on the list of possible blood donors and if they’ll need me they’ll call my mum to bring me to donate blood. After the test, I received a full bowl of food. Well, I think it was all worth it.

In Slovenia, every vet clinic has its own list of blood donors. It’s still something that is not universally known to pet owners. And the donations have to be done as soon as possible when needed. The problem is, not all owners are available at that time and dogs must not donate their blood too often. That’s why my mum decided to register me as a blood donor at another vet clinic, closer to our home. 

In the next few years, we were called for blood donations five times. But we could only respond three times. So I donated blood three times and possibly saved three dogs. My mum was very proud of me. Since I didn’t want to lay still while donating blood, they had to sedate me just a little. But I received a huge bowl of food afterward so I quickly forgot the sedation part. I was a bit dizzy and tired on days I donated my blood. I rested and slept mostly. But the next day I was already my old self again, running around and playing. 


Later, things moved ahead in Slovenia and one vet clinic decided to make a universal pet donor web page. So, when you register as a blood donor, every clinic can contact you. That made saving cats’ and dogs’ lives much easier.