By Libby Hopkins
February is National Blood Donor month, so pets in the Tampa Bay area and beyond are lining up to do their part. Why on earth are pets donating blood you ask? Because just like humans, dogs and cats often need blood transfusions during emergencies or surgery. Many pets donate blood so other pets can live. “To make sure our patients have access to blood products right away, we have an in-house blood bank,” said Dr. Dee Ann Dugger, of BluePearl Specialty & Emergency Pet Hospital and the founder of the Tampa Blood Bank program. “We couldn’t do it without the dogs and cats who participate, as well as our donor parents who are all just wonderful people.”
BluePearl Veterinary Partners, a national provider of emergency and specialty pet care, currently hosts thriving pet blood banks in Seattle, Houston and Tampa. Hundreds of active donor pets help save thousands of lives every year, but cat and dog blood is still in very high demand in pet hospitals across the United States. “With one single donation, up to three pet lives can be saved,” said Dugger. “Every new donor helps combat nationwide blood shortages. In many cases, blood donated at BluePearl is used directly for emergencies within our own hospitals. This eliminates the need to order blood from external sources, so pets get medical care much faster.”
Blood for dogs and cats is very much in demand and it is often used in emergencies, such as a pet who has suffered trauma or gone through surgery. An interesting fact to point out is that cats have different blood types just like humans. “Dogs have a numbered blood typing system called Dog Erythrocyte Antigen (DEA) system. DEA 1.1 is the main blood type and dogs can be positive or negative,” Dugger said. “DEA 1.1 Negative is a universal blood type and is safe to be given to any other dog. Cats have three different blood types: A, B, and AB. Type A is the most common with type B found in about five percent of the population. There is no universal blood type for cats.”
To donate, dogs and cats must be in good health and must meet certain other requirements that can be found on the BluePearl website. Cats and dogs who donate also get some benefits, at no cost to their owners. These include a free physical exam, complete blood work-up and tests for heartworm and other infectious diseases. Visit the Tampa Blood Bank program’s website at www.bluepearlvet.com.