Dog Blood

Earlier this summer Junior had a blood transfusion. He was bitten by a larger dog and blood was sort of spurting everywhere. We had this horrible moment where we handed him over to the vet tech who asked us some questions:

If he needs blood do we have your permission to give it? We both nodded.

If he crashes do you want us to resuscitate? Mr. G nodded. I shrugged. I could have gone either way with it. I don’t personally want to be resuscitated in every instance.

Junior didn’t crash and wasn’t resuscitated but he did have a fairly involved surgery and was put back together again.

About a week later I was standing in the shower (all thinking is best in the shower) and it dawned on me that they offered me poodle blood. Where does one get poodle blood? I couldn’t stop thinking about it and asked pretty much everyone I know if they’d ever been asked to donate dog blood (with their dog of course).

I mean, we’ve all rolled up our sleeves for the bloodmobile but I’ve never seen a dog blood donation bank. What about cats? I don’t even want to know about farm animals.

I found scholarly articles that talked about canine and feline blood banking and how it was preferable to the whole blood many veterinarians used from donor animals that live in the clinics and that’s when I did a little freak out. Would a Los Angeles vet have a dog just hanging out in a crate waiting to roll her sleeve up?

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Then I asked my facebook friends if they knew about how you get poodle blood (the bestest of all canine bloods – yes?) and this was our discussion.

ME: Where do they get blood from for transfusions?

FRIEND: From live donor animals, who usually live at the clinics themselves as pets, and who are retired after a few years of “service”. Retired donor animals usually go home with one of the techs or vets working at the clinic.

ME: Oh god. So gross.

FRIEND: The donor animals don’t seem to mind. At least, the few cats I was able to work around didn’t mind, at all. They rarely had to give blood, and when they did, they were treated so well afterward, that the donation was forgotten, I’m sure.

ME: Do they roam the hospital like pets?

FRIEND: Yes, totally free roam in the back areas, but they usually stayed out of the hustle and bustle within the quiet of the veterinarian offices. Also, I do know that some clinics recruit donations from clients and employees pets, if they have room to store blood.

I also found this great podcast from NPR. It delighted me to know that I’m not the only person who ponders poodle blood.

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  1. When one of our cats died after major surgery 3 years ago, she had a few transfusions in the process. I had the same question you did – and even e-mailed the specialist to offer the services of one of our other cats if they needed blood donors. He pretty much explained the same thing, though at that clinic they don’t have clinic pets, they get theirs from a cat blood-bank in the area.

    A cat blood-bank.

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