Pets to the rescue as vets request blood donors

02 November 2007
Dog owners are being encouraged to donate their pets’ blood in an attempt to save thousands of animals’ lives.

Vets across the UK are asking pet owners to bring in their animals to help stockpile blood and contribute to a national pet blood bank as well as campaigning for the introduction of mobile pet blood donor vans.

The pet blood bank, which operates in the same way as the human version, has come over from the US where blood donors routinely help contribute to a national bank of blood available to help sick animals. Pets are played soothing music to create a calm and pleasant atmosphere while the blood extracted from the jugular vein.

The request has come from the need for more blood supplies to help with transfusions in surgery in particular for serious operations like open heart surgery, for operations where pets have been run over or for animals that suffer from haemophilia.

However, according to Swiftcover, Britons spend a staggering £3.5 billion per annum on their pets’ costs, yet only one in seven pet owners holds a pet insurance policy. It is estimated that the average vet bill now costs in the region of £230 per visit and this figure can soar if the pet requires open heart surgery which can be as much as £10,000 or knee or hip replacement surgery which totals between £2,500 and £4,000. Pet insurance generally covers vets bills for £3,000-£7,000 a year, which greatly reduces the financial burden.

The blood banks will also help the breeds that are predisposed to conditions such as heart disease such as labradors, keeshonds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and retrievers. What’s more, cross species blood donations are possible in most cases, apart from cats which require an exact blood type match. Dan Brockman, Professor of Surgery at the Royal Veterinary College who is a supporter of the scheme comments: “It is not possible to have trauma centres without blood product support. I hope a national blood bank will be set up.”

Currently there are around 15 pet blood donation facilities available; one such operation has been introduced in the Loughborough area. Pet Blood Bank UK, a not-for-profit centre which collects, stores and distributes pet blood currently only serves the local region though similar services are being planned as soon as funding becomes available.

It is hoped that the scheme could become national in the near future while there is also further research and development being done on the possibility of creating a similar scheme for cats also.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd

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