Paws for thought: Could your pet pooch help to save lives?

Dogs across the Kingdom are being invited to follow in the pawprints of a very special canine by giving blood to help save  sick and injured pets. Pic: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL.
Dogs across the Kingdom are being invited to follow in the pawprints of a very special canine by giving blood to help save sick and injured pets. Pic: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL.

Dogs across the Kingdom are being invited to follow in the pawprints of a very special canine by giving blood to help save the lives of sick and injured pets.

Izzy the German Shepherd from Fife has reached the memorable milestone of 29 blood donations for Pet Blood Bank UK (PBB).

How to save a life...Izzy certainly knows how, much to the delight of owner Fiona Martin.

How to save a life...Izzy certainly knows how, much to the delight of owner Fiona Martin.

In recognition, PBB will present her with a hamper and presents at its next blood donor session at Vets Now in Castle Riggs, Dunfermline, on September 20.

Very few donor dogs reach this milestone before they have to retire.

Izzy, who is owned by Fiona Martin, may have helped to save the lives of more than 100 sick and injured dogs.

This wonderful lifesaver has been giving blood at PBB’s collection sessions since February 2010 and followed in the pawsteps of Fiona’s older dog, Zoltan.

Izzy is a lifesaver.

Izzy is a lifesaver.

PBB, launched in 2007, is the only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for veterinary practitioners across the country.

As a former human blood donor, and someone who has received a blood transfusion, Fiona recognises just how important PBB’s work is.

She said: “I am extremely proud of Izzy and what she has achieved – she’s my little heroine.

“She is also a negative blood type which means that her blood can help save dogs with either positive or negative blood types.

Wendy Barnett

Wendy Barnett

“Izzy retired this month when she reached her ninth birthday but we’re hoping our yellow Labrador will be able to start saving lives too when he turns one.”

Wendy Barnett, clinical director at Pet Blood Bank UK, said: “As part of our charitable remit, our aim is to advance animal health and welfare and to relieve suffering by providing quick and convenient access to blood.

“A lot of people don’t realise that dogs can donate.

“It’s similar to a human donation service and we hold sessions all over the UK at veterinary practices.

Making a fuss...of the donor dogs ensures the experience is a happy one.   Pic:  PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL

Making a fuss...of the donor dogs ensures the experience is a happy one. Pic: PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL

“The blood is then taken to our state of the art processing centre in Loughborough where it is separated into red blood cells and plasma products, before being stored ready for despatch.”

Donating blood doesn’t hurt the animals and most dogs don’t even realise that they are doing it!

Wendy said: “We use local anaesthetic cream to prevent discomfort. In addition, we find that by making lots of fuss and giving reassurance, the dogs are very happy.

“All dogs who come along to a session are monitored throughout the experience and if they are showing any signs of stress or discomfort they won’t donate.”

She added: “We’ve seen a 25 per cent growth in demand year on year for blood products.

“Every unit potentially saves up to four lives.”

Although owners of dogs with both negative and positive blood are welcome to donate, there is a particular need for negative blood.

Katrina Wilkinson, of PBB explained: “Dogs can either be DEA 1 Negative or DEA 1 Positive. From our research, 70 per cent of dogs appear to be positive and only 30 per cent are negative.

“Negative can be given to any dog, whereas dogs with negative blood type can only receive negative.

“Because of this, the demand for negative blood is higher than for positive but, with fewer dogs being negative, it means keeping up with demand can be challenging.

“To keep our negative blood supplies at a healthy level, we are particularly looking for Airedale Terriers, American Bulldog, Border Collies, Boxers, Dobermans, Dogue de Bordeaux, English Bull Terriers, Flat Coated Retrievers, German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Lurchers, Old English Sheepdogs, Pointers (English) and Weimaraners.”

To be able to give blood, canine donors need to be:

Fit and healthy;

Between one and eight years old;

Weigh more than 25kg;

Have a good temperament;

Never travelled abroad;

Vaccinated and not on any medication.

St Clair Veterinary Group, 2 Cadham Centre, Glenrothes, will also be holding a donor session on Sunday, October 8.

To make an appointment at either the blood donor session in Dunfermline or Glenrothes call PBB on 01509 232222 or visit www.petbloodbankuk.org.

The PBB donation process ...

The appointment for dogs making a donation to the Pet Blood Bank (PBB) is split into three parts.

Firstly there is a pre-donation health check with the vet which takes about 15 minutes. Then there is the donation. This takes place with the owner present and takes between five and 10 minutes to give 450mls (just under a pint) of blood. Following the donation, the donor dog receives a drink of water and a snack – very similar to human donors having a cup of tea and a biscuit. The donor dog also receives a goody bag which has a toy, an I’m a life saver bandana and some treats. The entire appointment takes around 40 minutes.