Hello, my name is Easton, I’m a 6-year-old chocolate lab, and when my Mom got me, she wanted me to become a therapy dog when I was old enough. Unfortunately, I have a mind of my own and I didn’t like that idea. So, when I was 3, my Mom heard about a blood donating clinic and thought it would be a great thing for me to do. At first, it was a bit scary going to a different clinic with new people, but my Mom was with me the whole time, and they gave me lots of treats to make me more comfortable.
Now I know everyone, so when I get there, I go on the weight scale to check my weight. Then we go into a room where they take a small amount of blood from my cephalic vein (front leg) to check my blood type as this was my first time (this only happens at the first donation). As it turned out, I’m a universal donor. From that blood sample, they also checked my PCV, total protein levels (both of these are done at each donation to make sure I’m healthy enough to donate) and they also run a 4DX snap test to make sure I haven’t been exposed to Heartworm, Lyme, Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis. After they do those quick tests to clear my health status, they give me some treats, then I lay nice and still on my side on a comfy table while my Mom holds my head still. One of the technicians then takes blood from my jugular vein (yes, my neck vein). It sounds scary, but it doesn’t hurt and it’s very quick! They take 450-500 mL (1 pint), which takes about 5 minutes, and after I’m done, I get more treats! The whole process from start to finish takes about 20 minutes.
Checking my PCV (packed cell volume) is important to make sure I’m not anemic before I donate blood. PCV is the percentage of red blood cells in circulating blood. A low PCV could be due to many reasons including cell destruction, blood loss and failure of bone marrow production. A high PCV could mean I’m dehydrated or there’s an abnormal increase in red blood cell production.
As I mentioned, I am a universal donor which is great because my breed is not known to be. There are 19 breeds that tend to be universal donors, which can be found on the Canadian Animal Blood Bank website. You can also find more information on how to become a blood donor. Dogs have 12 blood groups and can contain any combination as they are inherited independently. The most important one is called Dog Erythrocyte Antigen (DEA) 1.1, and there is a negative and a positive. Dogs that are type DEA 1.1 Negative are considered universal donors and are in high demand these days. After my first donation, my Mom got an email two days later saying I helped save a German Shepherd who got hit by a car in Toronto. Now my Mom takes me every three months to donate so I can help more of my canine friends who get sick or get into trouble.
As of today, I have donated a total of 7 times in 3 years. Each of my donations can be used to help two dogs, which means in total, I have potentially helped 14 dogs return home safely with their families. Every time I donate, my Mom tells me how proud she is of me. Did I mention I get lots of treats whenever I go?
If you are interested in your pet becoming a blood donor, give us a call at 613.544.7387!
Written by: Amanda Gorrell, VA