Blood: it’s in your dog to give

Whitehorse All Paws Veterinary Clinic is looking for a few doggie blood donors. Since the new clinic opened a little over a year ago, staff have been using their own pets as donors in the event of an emergency situation.

Whitehorse’s All Paws Veterinary Clinic is looking for a few doggie blood donors.

Since the new clinic opened a little over a year ago, staff have been using their own pets as donors in the event of an emergency situation where blood is needed.

But there are requirements for a good donor dog.

They should be over 25 kilograms in weight and between one and five years old.

“We actually only have two pets of staff that fit that category,” said All Paws owner Candace Stuart.

“And they can’t donate more than once every three months, so that’s pretty limiting.”

All Paws is looking for blood about once every four to six weeks.

Stuart would like to find a few more generous pooches to help with the emergency blood shortage.

“First we’d like to get an interested donor list, then check those dogs out to see if they’re fit for donation and find out what blood type they are,” she said.

“Six to 10 that are blood-typed universal donors would be good. More would be great because then they’d have to donate less often.”

Not only would local donors save lives, it would also save money for the owners of pets that require emergency transfusions.

Right now, it costs about $400 for each transfusion.

This is because most blood products – fresh whole blood, plasma and red blood cells – come from down south.

Not only is this expensive, but it’s also slow.

That isn’t a big deal when it comes to getting frozen plasma or whole blood for a planned surgery.

But it’s a different story during an emergency or an outbreak.

If an emergency happens during a weekday, the clinic can get the blood to the Yukon in six hours on an Air North flight.

But that’s a long time for an emergency. And if it happens to occur at night or over the weekend then it can’t be done.

Having a local donor list would prevent all this hassle.

“And it would mean that we’d be able to do it more often too because sometimes it’s cost prohibitive,” said Stuart.

Dogs have up to seven different blood types – which makes it sound as if it might be difficult to find a match.

But this isn’t the case.

Dogs don’t have natural antibodies like we do.

So when it comes down to an emergency vets don’t have to worry about matching blood types.

However, this only works the first time.

After that, the blood starts producing antibodies and a better match is necessary for future transfusions.

As for our feline friends, there are no plans in the works as of yet to start a kitty blood donor list.

Like just about everything else, cats are more fussy when it comes to blood donation.

It often requires anesthetics or full on sedation to collect cat blood. And they have more risk of blood interactions from the transfusion.

Fortunately, cats don’t tend to get into traumatic accidents as often as dogs do. And infectious diseases are far less common for cats in the North.

For more information contact All Paws Veterinary Clinic at 667-7387.

Contact Chris Oke at chriso@yukon-news.com

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