DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital operates one of the largest volunteer-based animal blood banks in the Pacific Northwest. With more than 100 volunteer canine and feline blood donors, the DoveLewis Blood Bank Program provides enough blood products to support hundreds of live-saving transfusions every year.
How it Works
At your dog’s first appointment, our veterinary staff will take a small sample of his or her blood. They will also give your pooch a free physical. The blood is then tested and typed. If he or she passes the test, you can schedule a donation appointment.
The entire donation process takes about 30 minutes. Superheroes are asked to come to DoveLewis 4 - 6 times a year to provide blood donations for at least 3 years. Our blood donors get a bandana to proudly wear showing that he or she is what we call all of our blood donors: a “Superhero.” Every time a Superhero comes in to donate blood, he or she also gets a brand new toy!
DoveLewis Blood Donor Dogs are:
- Between the ages of 1 and 6
- Current on vaccines
- Receives heartworm preventative each month
- Weighs at least 55 pounds
- Has never had a transfusion
We are always looking for more Superheroes to join our program. If you and your dog are interested in volunteering, please fill out an interest form.
We love our Blood Donor Dogs and their families - they save lives! Every year, we hold an appreciation event for our DoveLewis Blood Donor Dogs and their dedicated guardians in April at the Lucky Labrador Brew Pub.
Cats must be anesthetized in order to give blood, so we don’t ask privately owned cats to become blood donors. All of our blood donor cats live in the homes of DoveLewis staff members or local veterinary professionals. We only use feline blood donors owned by veterinary professionals, because they recognize and understand that, although rare, there are potential risks of sedating animals on a regular basis and the necessity to prevent their cat’s enjoyment of the outdoors in an effort to prevent disease, virus, infection, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the blood bank needed?
All too often, injured or sick animals require blood transfusions as part of their treatment. DoveLewis provides blood products to veterinarians across the Portland Metro area, as well as throughout the state. Our blood bank supplies enough for 600 blood transfusions each year, but even that’s not enough. Without the participation of canine blood donors, animals in need might not be able to receive critical transfusions in time.
Do dogs and cats have different blood types?
Yes. Today, the veterinary community has not only recognized the many different blood groups for canines, but our understanding of what exactly happens to an animal when a transfusion is administered has revolutionized how we can be certain we are providing the right therapy for patients. There are over a dozen blood group systems that have been recognized in dogs; however, only six are clinically significant. These are referred to as dog erythrocyte antigens, with the abbreviation DEA followed by a number. So far, the recognized blood types in dogs are DEA 1:1, 1:2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. Basic blood types include DEA 1:1 negative and DEA 1:1 positive, while complete blood typing reveals if a canine is also positive or negative for the remaining antigens 3-7. DEA negative is the most common blood type; however, only one of the negative types is a true universal and that is DEA 4. For this reason, DEA 4 is the most beneficial blood type and the main blood type we screen for. Both positive and negative dogs are still eligible to donate. However, because positive blood types are not as common, we only need a limited number of positive donors. Cats on the other hand, have just two basic blood types, type “A” and “B.” Type “A” is much more common; 95% of housecats in America have type “A” blood. A third, type “AB,” is extremely rare.
What kind of commitment do I have to make?
- Make an appointment every 2 – 3 months for 3 years, providing your dog is healthy and happy
- Give your dog heartworm preventative each month
- Keep up to date with your regular veterinarian’s health and vaccination schedule (DoveLewis cannot function as your pet’s regular care provider)
- Notify Blood Bank staff if your dog travels outside of the Pacific Northwest, or if he or she has been used for breeding
Blood Bank Program Director
Jill Greene, CVT
Ladan Mohammad-Zadeh, DVM, DACVECC