I had heard of the Pet Blood Bank before, but only when it was mentioned in one of our blood lectures did I start wondering. I don’t know how often veterinary professionals make use of the service in general practice, but I do think it’s fantastic that a resource like this is available to help save the lives of sick dogs.

Blood Transfusion
A Parson Jack Russell terrier receiving a blood transfusion for treatment of severe anaemia as a consequence of rat bait toxicity. Credit: Pet Blood Bank UK.

Set up in 2007 after a change in legislation allowing collection, processing and storage of pet blood, it is a fairly new charity.

This is a classic example of just how recent and non-routine a procedure is in veterinary compared to how commonplace it is in human medicine. It is understandable why blood transfusions are less often thought of in the veterinary world. While animal blood-typing is less well understood and more complicated than human blood-typing, we also have to take ethical decisions, considering the healthy donor dog cannot choose whether to surrender some of his/her blood.

However, I think that the benefits of having a pet blood bank outweighs the ethical conundrum, as long as the donor is healthy and any risks are minimised. Blood transfusions can be life-saving, and we should embrace the opportunity to provide dogs with the same medical advancements as are available in human medicine.

We should not only support the work of the Pet Blood Bank, but also promote it and try to increase awareness throughout not only the veterinary world but in the general public as well. By raising the profile of the charity, more donors will come forward and more funding can become available to extend the service in order to provide other pets, such as cats and horses, with an equally life-saving resource.

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