Giving blood is more than a mutt’s game
Published Monday, December 24, 2012 4:49PM EST
MONTREAL—Everyone has heard the messages about the importance of giving blood. Two-year-old Minah doesn’t know where she is, but she’s going with the flow.
“Everybody that you ask really doesn’t know that dogs can also give blood,” said Amber Seguin, a student in animal health. “If she had an accident and needed blood, I would be really thankful to the person that volunteered.”
The third-year student at Vanier College is volunteering Minah, her own dog, while learning important skills that will help her with her career.
“I think it's a really good thing to do. It helps other animals and that's obviously part of my mandate,” said Seguin.
Owners can have their dogs donate blood for the same reasons humans donate it—to help others suffering from an illness, or those who've lost blood in an accident.
Beth Knight is the laboratory director at the Canadian Animal Blood Bank, based in Winnipeg. She travelled to Montreal to help with a special clinic. The blood collected here is shipped to Winnipeg, where it's stored until it's needed.
“The blood bank gets some great dog blood that we can utilize across Canada. The need is out there, every day. Summer and holidays seasons are more challenging with emergency surgeries,” said Knight.
Donors must weigh at least 55 pounds, along with a number of other criteria.
“A good candidate has to be a dog between one and seven, have an easy-going disposition that he's not going to be frightened by the environment. They have to be in good health, ideally up to date on their vaccines and other preventatives for heartworm and so forth,” explained Dr. Stephanie Laett, a veterinarian who teaches at Vanier College.
Before blood is drawn, the dogs undergo a full exam including preliminary blood tests. Then, there's a quick shave and an application of cream to desensitize the skin before the needle goes in, a procedure providing valuable experience to the students.
“Working with a lot of dogs, talking with the owners, the restraint experience, they have to draw the blood samples. The student drew from the vain so they have to deal with that, run all the samples, keep the flow organized,” said Laett.
In the end, it's all very rewarding for the dogs. Minah may not know she could be saving another dog's life, but she gets a treat and some food, that's good enough for her.