Blood Donor Program
A donation of blood means giving the gift of life to an animal that is sick
or injured. The demand for blood products continues to increase and we need the
help of willing canine volunteers to meet this need. Give your dog a chance to
be someone’s hero.
Click on a link OR
Canine Blood Donor Program
How Many Lives Has Your Dog Saved Today?
Dogs may need blood transfusions for different reasons. Your
dog’s blood is made of red blood cells, white blood cells,
platelets, and plasma. Blood can be separated into these various
components so that the specific transfusion needs of your dog
can be met. The most common transfusions involve the use of red
blood cells or plasma.
Red blood cells are used in the treatment of anemia (low red blood cell count).
Red blood cells may be needed following an accident or during surgery when blood
is lost. They are also needed when your dog’s body cannot produce enough red
blood cells by itself or when diseases cause the body to destroy its own red
Plasma contains proteins or enzymes which help to clot the blood. It can be used
to treat bleeding due to liver disease or bleeding seen with the accidental
ingestion of rodent poisons. Plasma is also used when the protein or albumin of
the patient becomes very low. Another component of plasma, cryoprecipitate, is
used in the treatment of hemophilia or in other inherited bleeding problems.
Blood types are determined by molecules (proteins and carbohydrates) on
the surface of the red blood cells. Dogs have at least six well characterized
blood types, also known as dog erythrocyte antigens (DEA). The antigens are DEA
1.1,1.2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. The blood type considered most important in dogs is DEA
1.1. Dogs that are negative for DEA 1.1 can give blood to dogs that are DEA 1.1
negative or positive, but dogs that are DEA 1.1 positive can only give blood
safely to dogs that are DEA 1.1 positive. Dogs that are negative for DEA 1.1 and
the majority of other blood types are considered “universal” blood donors.
The majority of dogs are DEA 1.1 positive and only a small percentage of dogs
are “universal” donors. A predisposition to being DEA 1.1 positive or negative
exists in some breeds. Breeds more likely to be DEA 1.1 negative include
Greyhounds, Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Pit
Bulls. Breeds more commonly DEA 1.1 positive are Golden Retrievers and
Donor dogs must be:
- Healthy and Happy
- Greater than 60 lbs
- Between 1-6 yrs old
- Able to lay still for 10 minutes
We ask our donors to commit to the program for two years or about 12
If you have a dog that meets the requirements above and are interested in
participating, please complete
Completed forms or questions can be sent to:
TransfusionService@vetmed.wsu.edu or Transfusion Services, College of
Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-7060
Our donors come in once every two months to donate. We use the same
equipment that is used in human medicine. Blood is collected from the jugular
vein and collections take between 5-10 minutes. We take 450 mls of blood which
is equivalent to about 2 measuring cups. After the collection the dogs get lots
of treats and praise as well as a high energy meal. The total time your dog
spends with us is about 30 minutes.
After the whole blood is collected it is spun in a centrifuge to
separate the red cells from the plasma. Plasma contains important clotting
factors and other proteins. 450 mls of blood can be separated into
two units of packed red blood cells and two units of plasma. This means a single
donation could potentially help 4 dogs! Packed red blood cells can be kept
refrigerated for 5 weeks and plasma can be kept frozen for a year.
During your initial visit with us we will take a small blood sample to
determine your dog’s blood type and assess your dog's personality. If your dog
has the right blood type for the program your dog will be screened for
blood-borne diseases and will go through a training program to become accustomed
to the process of the blood collection, so that it will be a positive
All of the donor dogs are screened for a number of blood-borne
infectious diseases to ensure only healthy dogs enter the program. Many of our
donors have a “universal” blood type, so there is less risk of a transfusion
reaction in the patient. Other donors have the more common DEA 1.1 positive
blood type and so are compatible with a large percentage of recipients. Before
all transfusions blood from the donor and blood from the recipient are
cross-matched to ensure that they are compatible.
The blood is collected in sterile plastic bags and is handled and stored in much
the same way as human blood. Each bag has an expiration date and is destroyed
after it expires.
Before blood or blood products are given to your dog, your veterinarian
will generally perform a cross-match to ensure that the blood is
compatible with your dog. Blood is then given slowly through a
special filter into the vein. The speed of transfusion and how
much blood is given will vary with the needs and size of the
This blood has been collected properly from healthy, universal donor
dogs, and the risks from the transfusion itself are minimal.
Some dogs may develop a fever or mild facial swelling during or
after transfusion. This can be treated by your veterinarian.
Dogs with serious illnesses getting repeated transfusions are
more likely to develop transfusion reactions. Your veterinarian
can answer questions about the risks involved in these special
Blood products are stored in a special blood bank refrigerator or
freezer in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Washington State
The WSU Program in Veterinary Transfusion Medicine and the WSU
Transfusion Service was started in 1988 with the help of a grant
from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The
transfusion service continues today, with support provided
through the sale of blood products. Additional contributions are
always welcomed to defray the costs of donor dog blood testing
and health care.
Feline Blood Donor Program
How Many Lives Has Your Cat Saved Today?
Dogs aren't the only animals that need blood transfusions. Cats often
need blood transfusions for the same reasons as dogs.
Cats also have their own unique blood types. Compared to dogs, cat
blood types are much simpler. Cats are either type
A, type B, or rarely type AB. Type A is the most
common blood type comprising 90-95% of the cat
population in the United States. While B cats are
uncommon, it is extremely important that they be
given type B blood. Less than 1 ml of blood from a
type A cat that is given to a type B cat can cause a
transfusion reaction strong enough to result in
death. Cats that are type AB can receive blood from
either type A or type B cats.
The majority of our feline donors are type A. Only a small number of
type B cats are needed in the program since type B blood is
needed less often for transfusions.
- Healthy and Happy
- Greater than 10 lbs, but preferably over 12 lbs
- Between 1-6 yrs old
- Friendly and easy to handle
If you have a cat that meets the requirements above and are
interested in participating, please complete
Completed forms or
questions can be sent to:
TransfusionService@vetmed.wsu.edu or Transfusion Services,
College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University,
Pullman, WA 99164-7060
Our cat donors come in once every three months to donate. It is more challenging to keep cats still during collections so donors are anesthetized during the process. Blood is collected from the jugular vein and collections take between 5-10 minutes. Cats can donate up to 20% of their total blood volume during each collection. That means that cats greater than 10 lbs can give 55 mls of blood. Cats are given a health check before each donation, monitored carefully during the collection, and watched over by a technician as they recover from anesthesia.
Each blood donation can be separated into a unit of plasma and a unit or packed red blood cells.