Many of us donate blood. We all know the importance of a well-stocked blood bank to save lives in times of trauma. But did you know that dogs may become blood donors too? I didn’t know either, until today, thanks to my Vermont cousin Judy, who read about this process in Best Friends magazine.

Without dog blood donors, veterinary surgeons couldn’t perform life-saving surgical procedures. It’s understandable how important this is. I also agree with Judy, who mentions one concern– that the dogs have no say in the somewhat painful and possibly risky procedure. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons.

There is even a dog blood donor website, where you can register your dog and veterinarians can check for matches. No fee is charged for listing on the website, and they recommend that all blood donations be without charge. The idea for the registry was started after a nine-year old Golden Retriever needed a life-saving transfusion.

>>The idea of creating a national blood donor database for pets came about after a nine year old Golden Retriever, Abi was diagnosed with auto-immune haemolytic anaemia. This is a disease in which the dog’s own immune system attacks and destroys the red cells in the blood which if untreated will eventually result in death.

Realising the seriousness of her condition Diana, Abi’s owner and vet immediately attempted to locate a blood donor or oxyglobin (a blood substitute) supplier.

Both were unsuccessful so it was decided to transfer Abi to Davies Veterinary Specialists, a specialist veterinary hospital for further treatment. Abi went along with three other Golden Retrievers belonging to the household. When tested they found, fortunately that all three had the same blood type as Abi.

Within hours Abi received her first transfusion.

The treatment continued for eight days, three transfusions in all. Along with medication, the blood donation worked. Abi returned home two weeks later and as of July 2006 is doing very well!

There is little doubt that without the second and third transfusion Abi would not have recovered. Diana is so thankful that she had the use of her own dogs to save Abi’s life. Not everyone is that lucky. Everyday vets face the problem of finding suitable animal blood donors.

With this in mind Diana approached Dr. Clive Elwood with a proposal for a national animal blood donor scheme. As head of the internal medicine service at Davies Veterinary Specialists Clive has first hand experience of the difficulties facing vets in need of animal blood donations.

Clive is also responsible for, the company website. His understanding of what is possible with the internet combined with his clinical experience places him in a unique position. With Clive’s supervision the Animal Blood Register was created as a free to use resource, helping vets find animal blood donations.

If you would like to learn more about the actual procedure for drawing blood from your dog, click here.