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Could your dog or cat be a blood donor?

Giving blood saves lives and during this year’s National Blood Week (starting today), Britons will be reminded that the UK needs approximately 200,000 new donors each year to meet patient demands. In England alone, 6,000 blood donations are needed every day to treat patients.

Yet, a less familiar reminder is the need to provide donations for pets too. For those considering whether their pet could become a donor, we have put together some useful tips on what owners need to know.

Andrew Bucher, Chief Veterinary Officer at MedicAnimal, says:

“Being told that your pet requires a blood transfusion is probably one of the last things an owner may expect to hear from a vet, yet it’s something that cannot be overlooked. Issues such as accidents, anaemia or leukaemia could result in your pet needing to be given a transfusion.
“Like humans, donating blood is something we may brush off and never get around to, but as you never know when your dog may need it, I’d urge all owners to speak to their vet or go online to see if their cat or dog is eligible.”


  • Dogs must be aged between one and eight years old;
  • Weigh over 25kg and be in good health;
  • Dogs must never have travelled abroad, must be up to date with their vaccines and have never received a transfusion;
  • A standard blood donation is around 450ml (known as one canine unit);
  • Your dog will be fine after approximately 24 hours but the actual volume of blood can take around two months to be replaced;
  • Like with humans, dogs are asked to donate up to three to four times a year; and
  • There are thirteen different blood types in dogs, and eight blood groups that are most commonly seen. Between a third and a half of the canine population are considered to be ‘universal recipients,’ meaning that they can generally accept blood from any blood group.
  • According to the charity Pet Blood Bank UK, over 1,000 dogs needed a blood transfusion last year


  • Cats must be aged between one and five years old;
  • Weigh over 4kg, but not overweight;
  • Fully vaccinated, in good health and calm when visiting places such as the vets; and
  • In cats, there are three types of blood groups and the correct match must be established before a transfusion can take place.

Andrew added:

“The blood donation process takes about 5 - 10 minutes, but you should allow for up to 30 - 40 minutes at a blood collection session. It’s simple, painless and you’ll be helping another pet across the UK.”