BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- Donating blood is one of the easiest way to help save a person's life. But did you know the need is just as important in the animal world?
There aren't massive blood banks for canines, like say the American Red Cross, at least not in Kansas City. But veterinarians say the need is always there. Every day hundreds of dogs across the country need blood transfusions.
At Blue Springs Animal Hospital and Pet Resort, getting that blood is often done on an as-needed basis.
"I won't know if I'm going to need a blood product until the patient walks in the door," veterinarian Stuart Ryder said.
He said they see a range of reasons why dogs come in needing blood.
"Trauma would certainly be one, patients that are hit by cars or things like that," he said. "We also see patients that ingest certain types of rat poisons that can cause them not to clot appropriately."
With more than a dozen canine blood types, you might think it would be hard to find a match. But Ryder said that's not the case.
"Dogs don't come pre-loaded with antibiotics like people do," he said.
Ryder's one-year-old Golden Retriever named Chewy helped demonstrate just how easy it is for dogs to donate blood.
It starts with a sample of blood from both the donor and the recipient. Then a cross-match is performed.
"A crossmatch is a blood test where we mix cerium from one patient and red blood cells from the other and look to see if they form clots," Ryder said.
If the blood doesn't clot, Ryder said that means it's a match, and they can continue drawing blood.
"We can draw blood from their front leg veins. Those are usually the easiest ones because you can see them the best," he said.
There's also the vein on their back leg or from juggler vein if there's a need for more blood. The process, which takes about a half hour, is completely pain free.
Chewy didn't even flinch. The tough part is keeping the dog still.
"Sometimes if it it’s an excitable dog, we will give it some sedation just to make sure they’re still long enough to get that donation," Ryder said.
In order for your dog to give blood, generally they need to be in good health, weigh more than 40 pounds, be currently vaccinated and not on a lot of medications.
Your veterinarian should be able to get you in touch with a clinic in need of canine blood.