BLOOD HOUNDS: Calling local dog donors

HUGABLE HERO: Roseworthy’s University of Adelaide Companion Animal Health Centre blood donor co-ordinator Jane Zielinski with dog, Bruce, who regularly donates blood and saves lives. PHOTO: Sara Gilligan

SARA GILLIGAN

A LOCAL animal hospital is calling for canine blood donors to save the lives of other dogs in need.

Just as humans require blood donors to access lifesaving transfusions, animals also rely on donated blood for their survival, especially when suffering from life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Roseworthy’s University of Adelaide Companion Animal Health Centre is looking for loyal animal blood donors to either stock pre-prepared blood products or to call on in an emergency.

The program’s blood donor co-ordinator Jane Zielinski said donors are required to match certain criteria, including being aged between one and seven, weighing more than 25kgs and emergency donors must live within 30 minutes of the hospital.

“Dogs can donate every six weeks, but we tend to like to push it eight to 12 weeks,” she said.

“Part of the criteria is that the dog’s demeanor has to be right.

“Donating doesn’t hurt the dog, but if we can tell they’re getting sick of the process or not enjoying it as much, we stop. Participation is up to the dog.

“My dog, Bruce, donates regularly and he just loves all the attention he gets from the students.

“A lot of people wouldn’t even know of the lengths we go to when treating or repairing animals.”

Ms Zielinski said the procedure is similar to a donation performed on people.

“The difference is that the jugular vein (in the neck) is used rather than the cephalic (in the arm). This method and location on your dog is safe and much quicker,” she said.

“Two patches of hair from your dog will be clipped – one on the leg for IV access and one on the neck for the donation – and we provide a light sedation so your dog is comfortable and relaxed and will be still for about 15 minutes while blood is collected.

“We take enough blood to fill one bag (450ml of blood) and if it’s a little dog that needs a blood transfusion we will split that bag.

“For first-time dogs in the program, we offer a free 30 to 45-minute consultation where we go through the benefits of donating, what to expect and will undergo a complete physical examination before the animal is accepted into the team.”

Local dog owners are encouraged by the hospital to take part in the program.

“Our blood donors are heroes and we treat them as such because they are so valuable to our standard of care,” Ms Zielinski said.

“It’s magical that a dog can save another’s life.

“We are the specialist referral center in the region that operates 24/7 and therefore we see a lot of dogs come through the hospital.

“To know your animal is a life-saving hero is very rewarding.”

Anyone interested in becoming a blood donor is encouraged to contact the Companion Animal Health Centre clinic and to speak to Jane Zielinski on 8313 1999.

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