Emergency Critical Care

Blood Bank

Can your dog be a Lifesaver? Yes, with the VCA NWVS Critical Care Blood Bank

There is an ongoing and tremendous need for blood not only for humans but also for their canine companions.

Just like people, dogs get injured, need surgery, and have life threatening illnesses; just like people, dogs need a safe and reliable source of blood in times of crisis. VCA NWVS Critical Care Blood Bank was established in 2006 to provide the highest quality veterinary blood products for the Portland-Vancouver Metro region. Over the past decade, the donations of the lifesaving canine heroes of our blood bank have allowed us to produce over 8,000 blood components to help the critically ill and injured dogs of Portland.

It is difficult to keep blood in stock and available for emergency situations, such as dogs who have been hit by a car, or for pets who are undergoing lifesaving cancer or surgical procedures. A blood transfusion is the gift of life to these animals and we are always on the lookout for canine volunteers to donate blood. If you have a big, happy, healthy dog, please contact us to find out how your dog can become a “lifesaver!”

To learn more about the VCA-NWVS Critical Care Blood Bank or to set up an appointment, please call (503) 656-3999 or email us at [email protected].

Thank you to Zoetis for being a proud sponsor of our blood donor program.

Eligibility Requirements

To become a canine blood donor, a dog must be:

  • Friendly with a good temperament
  • 1 to 6 years of age
  • In good physical condition and free of parasites
  • Weight of at least 50 pounds
  • Current on vaccinations
  • Have never received a blood transfusion
  • Not currently used for breeding
  • Taking no medication except heartworm, flea preventative, or thyroid medication

What are the benefits to being a canine blood donor?

  • A full annual physical exam by a licensed Veterinarian
  • Annual complete blood work including Complete blood cell count, Full chemistry, Infectious disease screening
  • Heart worm testing
  • 12 months of heartworm/parasite preventative medication
  • Treats and toys

Owners of canine blood donors tell us that the most important benefit is the satisfaction that comes in knowing that their pet is helping to save the lives of other dogs.

Questions and answers about canine blood donation

If my dog is chosen as a blood donor, what will be my responsibilities?

Although your dog can safely give blood every 30 to 45 days, a donation is typically given every 60 to 90 days. Because of the great need for canine blood products, we request that a dog be able to donate at least four times a year.

Is blood donation risky or painful to my pet? How much blood is donated at one time?

Blood donation is not painful to the blood donor. As in human medicine, the most common potential side effect is bruising at the site of collection (the neck area). Approximately 400 to 450 mls (one pint or two cups) of blood is taken at each donation.

Will my dog have to be sedated or restrained to give blood?

The majority of dogs require no sedation when they donate blood. A canine blood donor assumes a lying position on a padded table while one of our staff members holds them. The owner can then talk to and pet them while the donation is being made. Occasionally, a very excitable dog may require light sedation to calm them during the donation process.

How long does giving blood take?

The donation often takes less than 10 minutes; an entire appointment takes only 20 to 25 minutes (this includes time for a physical exam and for the donor to enjoy their treats and affection from the staff).

Can cats also become blood donors?

Currently our community blood donor program is limited to dogs. Drawing blood from cats requires special care (including the use of heavy sedation), so we limit participation to VCA-NWVS staff pets.