Local Vet Raises Awareness of Pet Blood Donations, Need for more Donors

Taylor Holt
Updated: December 05, 2018 07:29 PM

We always hear about the importance of blood drives and the urgent need for human blood donations, but have you ever wondered where blood for sick or injured pets come from? Lucy is a local pup that can help answer that question.


The 3-year-old Husky mix is sweet, loyal and also, a "hero." She one of 10 pet blood donors at BluePearl Emergency Vet in Duluth.

"She's a really happy dog. She has a good life," said her owner, Kaitlyn Mahlberg.

That's why she's helping save other lives.

"She's been a donor for a little over a year," said Mahlberg.

WDIO tagged along with Lucy and Kaitylyn, as Lucy went through her 7th donation.

"She usually does pretty well. Once she gets back home, she usually sleeps it off because she'll be a little tipsy," said Mahlberg.

Vet Tech Jeff Marchetti says the blood donation process isn't much different than when humans give blood. To become a donor, the animals go through an initial assessment to make sure they are healthy, and on the day of giving things like hydration status and possible anemia are assessed.

One difference is that most dogs are given a mild sedation to calm them down, then from there, it's goes pretty quick and takes five to ten minutes. 

"We're going to take 425 milliliters. It goes based off body weight," said Marchetti, while collecting Lucy's blood.

Marchetti says their donors usually donate every other month. Vets at the hospital say it's a program many don't know a lot about.

"I would say about half the people that come in our clinic look at the board and they are like, "what!," they didn't realize it was actually a thing so it's not a really well-known thing," said Vet Tech Elizabeth Hanson.

Marchetti say the program does so much good.

"Sometimes, we do have patients hit by cars, things like that, that will lose a lot of blood volume that way. However, more frequently we see the masses that rupture or auto-immune diseases," he said.

The need for more like Lucy is huge.

"Sometimes we need multiple bags of blood every month," Marchetti added.

Malhberg says she realizes that and that's why she'll continue to be involved.

"Dogs need blood just as much as humans," she said.

It's important to note, if signs of fear or aggressiveness are seen in dogs as they go into the procedure, they will not go through with it, because Marchetti says they want the animals to want to be there.

For more information on  the program and to see if your pet qualifies, you can visit BluePearl's website. 


Taylor Holt

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