Our furry friends always manage to get spoiled by Santa during the holidays, whether it’s with treats or toys. But what kind of gift can pets give to each other?
The Indianapolis Veterinary Emergency Center (IVEC) says blood is the answer. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their pets, both dogs and cats, to the 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic to help save the lives of other animals as part of its Canine & Feline Blood Donor Program.
“People don’t know that this is a need,” says Amy Waggoner, manager of IVEC’s animal blood bank. “More would be willing to participate if they knew they could help.”
It’s crucial for the clinic to keep an adequate blood supply year-round because it’s used for transfusions and surgeries, or to replenish an animal after losing a massive amount of blood. It also clears the blood of flea anemia and can help puppies survive the Parvovirus, which is often deadly.
“We ship around the country,” Waggoner notes. “Everything we draw goes out and then some.”
While the blood supply is transported nationwide, a high-rate of turnover also places a constant demand on IVEC to seek out new donors. At 8 years old, pets are no longer eligible to donate as “seniors,” as they could expect a longer recovery time.
Like humans, animals have different blood types. IVEC is looking primarily for universal donors, which for dogs includes most “bully breeds” (pit bulls, bulldogs and boxers), Waggoner explains.
Bigger breeds of dogs such as Great Danes and St. Bernards can help save the lives of four other animals with just one donation; smaller dogs can save two lives. Pets can donate from six to eight times a year.
During the screening process, all animals are tested for any potentially harmful diseases such as heartworm, anemia, feline AIDS and other blood-borne afflictions. Doctors complete a general health exam to make sure the animal is healthy enough to undergo the procedure, as well as a behavioral consult to make sure the pet is mentally sound.
“We look for any sign that drawing blood might be difficult on them or put them in distress,” Waggoner explains.
As an added benefit, IVEC’s unique program offers perks to clients whose pets donate blood. Donors are given free annual exams, yearly blood work and heartworm testing, as well as discounts on vaccinations, medicine and even emergency procedures.
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