Doggy Blood Donations: It’s in Them to Give

Have you heard of the Canadian Animal Blood Bank (CABB)?

They provide animals with much needed blood – very similar to humans!

In the first part of our two part series on dog blood donations, we are taking a general look at why blood donations are needed and the process dog blood donation.

Dog blood transfusions are needed in veterinary hospitals for: combating illness or disease (like cancer), treating an acute blood volume loss, and preventative measures in routine surgeries for dogs with bleeding disorders¹.

What you need to know before you take your dog to give blood

Beth Knight, lab director for CABB’s Winnipeg location, has overseen over 10,000 collections and can attest that the procedure is fast and relatively painless for dogs.

“We use a pump that helps the flow of blood, and most dogs are done donating in 2-3 minutes. Donors may take issue with the gentle/firm restraint, but I’ve never seen one yelp or jump in pain,” said Knight.

A total of 450 mL of blood is collected each donation and dogs are able to donate every three months.

According to Knight, any dog can donate but they must:

  • weigh at least 55 lbs;
  • be between the ages of 1 and 8;
  • have a sweet temper; and
  • be up to date on all core vaccinations.

Greyhounds (pictured above) are “the most desirable canine blood donors”³ as a large percentage of their population can be universal blood donors. This is because they have a very abundant red blood cell count.

At CABB, absolute care is taken with every dog that gives blood to ensure their safety and comfort throughout and after the process. “We complete a hematocrit or PCV (packed cell volume) to ensure the donor is not anemic before donating. We also complete a TP (total protein) which ensures the donor is not dehydrated before donation,” said Knight.


There are more than a dozen different dog blood types have been identified, though only there is only one, Dog Erythrocyte Antigen (DEA) 1.1, that Vets usually concern themselves with and as a result is the only type dogs are tested for when they donate blood. This is because most of the canine population is either DEA 1.1 positive or negative, and when they are transfused it can lead to complications if they receive the wrong DEA 1.1 blood type².

While CABB is still working on setting up regular clinics for donations, their website contains current information for pet Guardians on where and when their dog can donate.

Do you have any other questions about dog blood donations? Or questions for Beth Knight about the Canadian Animal Blood Bank? Reach out to us today at!


The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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