It only takes five minutes and can save a life, and we hope our pets never have to use it. It is the Canadian Animal Blood Bank (CABB) and they are holding a blood donor clinic this August in Edmonton, Alberta. The CABB is a non-profit organization dedicated to supplying quality blood products to veterinarians.
At their head office, located at the Red River College in Winnipeg, MB, they collect, process, store and ship the blood products. The CABB was founded as a joint effort between the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association and Red River College in Winnipeg, MB. The blood collected at CABB is available to veterinarians all across Canada. There are other blood banks that supply blood to clinics in their immediate area, but the CABB with collection locations in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Toronto and soon to be Quebec, is the main national supplier of canine blood products. The collection site in Edmonton is at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). NAIT’s satellite clinic opened in 2002, and reached 1,000 donations in 2007.
Dogs have blood types, but not the same as ours. There are currently eight internationally recognized blood group antigens, labelled as DEA (Dog Erythrocyte Antigen) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. The DEA 1 system consists of types 1.1 and 1.2 DEA 1.1 DEA is the most significant type and all of their donor dogs are tested to determine if they are positive or negative for the antigen.
Can cats give blood too? In short, no. The CABB does not collect blood from cats as there are more complications involved when collecting from a cat. As you are probably aware, cats will not sit still and therefore would have to be sedated. The amount of blood volume needed from a cat and their small size in combination with using a sedative may increase the risk of an adverse reaction such as low blood pressure. The need for transfusions in cats is not as common as in dogs therefore, transfusions for cats are dealt with on an as needed basis. A volunteer cat will be brought into the clinic to provide an immediate transfusion to the recipient cat.
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A unit of blood collected from a dog is approximately 450 – 500 mL and they are eligible to donate every three months. One unit of blood can save up to four dogs. The non-profit provides blood for up to 200 dogs every week. Sedation or anesthetic is not required during the donation, which lasts approximately five minutes. When the donation is completed, they process the blood into components. The blood components will then be available to veterinarians across Canada to aid ill and injured dogs. The wide range of transfusion needs might include combating illness or disease like Parvovirus, anemia, sepsis, treating, or acute blood volume loss and preventative measures in routine surgeries for dogs with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia. The benefits of donating blood are you get free blood type testing for your dog and a collar tag with the blood type, free microchip identification for your dog o a national registry, one free unit of a blood coponent for each unit of blood donated, if your dog requires blood in its lifetime.
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Currently, there are six dogs who have donated 15+ times and one dog, Dingo Lesick donating a total of 31 times! So what is a requirement to having your dog donate blood? Well, for starters, a candidate will be 55 lbs or over, but not overweight. They must be between the ages of 1 – 8 years, they must be current in all vaccinations, they must have a healthy and even temperament, and the CABB recommends that all donors be spayed or neutered, but it isn’t a requirement.
More blood donors are desperately needed. The next blood donor clinic in Edmonton will be held August 19th from 8:30 am to 4 pm, and August 21st from 5:30 pm to 8 pm. Both clinics will be held at NAIT, located at UTC 07, 11762 106 St. It is recommended you call ahead to make an appointment with the CABB at (204) 632-2586 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Nait for more information or to book an appointment at (780) 491-3138 . For more information you can visit the CABB website at canadiananimalbloodbank.ca
This article was written by Stacey Leochko.