Vets4Pets is working alongside the charity Pet Blood Bank UK to raise awareness of pet blood donation amongst UK dog owners, as the charity reports that its stocks of blood tend to diminish throughout the summer months.
In order to gauge awareness of pet blood donation, the national veterinary group carried out a consumer survey amongst UK dog owners.
The survey revealed that only 40% of pet owners know their dog can give blood, with awareness differing throughout the UK; respondents from the North East were most likely to be aware that dogs can give blood (57%), whilst those in Wales were least likely (30%).
With only 30% of dogs also having the negative blood type, the focus of the joint campaign is to encourage more negative blood type dogs to become donors, particularly throughout the difficult summer period.
Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “We are thrilled to be working with such a great charity as Pet Blood Bank, and support them in their important goal of increasing the number of pet blood donors in the UK.
“We recently focused on the topic of pet blood donation in our 2019 Vet Report, with the aim of educating pet owners, but we also wanted to understand what the current awareness was across the UK.
“That’s why at Vets4Pets, we put together the recent survey, which found that awareness is unfortunately still low, with 60% of people being unaware that pets can give blood.
“As vets, we know that a blood transfusion can often be the difference between life and death for pets, so ensuring that dog owners are aware that their dog can give blood is key to animal welfare and helping vet practices treat clients across the UK.”
Pet Blood Bank often face issues over the coming months, with owners cancelling appointments and the heat affecting dogs being able to donate, which means stock levels of blood reduce in summer.
The charity is also appealing for more negative blood type breeds to register as donors, as with this being a universal blood type, they often face low stock levels of this blood throughout the year.
Wendy Barnett, clinical director at Pet Blood Bank, said: “We hope by working with Vets4Pets it will help drive the numbers of people registering their dogs as donors, particularly negative blood type breeds, so we can continue our work of helping to save pets’ lives.
“We often have problems getting blood in the summer and keeping stocks from being critically low, as the number of no-show appointments increases.
“Dog owners often cancel last minute, due to the weather or going on holiday, and then we find it difficult to book appointments in.
“Unfortunately, we currently have a lack of negative dog breeds donating, as one of the most common donors we have registered are Labradors, which generally tend to be positive blood types.
“We currently have 10,000 registered dog donors; however, this doesn’t mean that all 10,000 are still active donors.
“On average we have 1,000 new registrations a year, but for many reasons dogs stop donating over the time. This is why it is so imperative that we have a constant, steady stream of new donor dogs, as stocks can decrease quickly.
“We can also see that demand for blood is increasing across the UK; last year we sent out over 5,000 units of blood to vet practices across the country. And, as negative blood can be used for all dogs in an emergency, these stocks decrease at a faster rate. It is an ongoing challenge to keep stocks up.
“This means we have had to hold extra sessions, and have recently launched our new mobile unit, so we can reach more areas that maybe don’t have a donation centre nearby.
“One of the most important things for us, is to ensure that people know how their dog can become a donor and that any concerns around the process are addressed.
“That’s why it is so great to be working with Vets4Pets, so we can communicate directly with pet owners that giving blood is a safe experience, and through our strict welfare first policy, we work hard to ensure all dogs are stress-free and happy whilst donating.”
According to the survey, 27% of respondents think giving blood would hurt their dog, whilst a third think their dog would be scared when giving blood and one in five think their dog would be unwell afterwards.
The survey also found that only 13% of respondents have had, or currently own, a dog that has given a pet blood donation, compared to 51% who said that they have donated blood themselves.
“The gap between dog donors and human donors is still vast, as our survey has shown, and as vets we need to continue the education within our practices; answering any questions or concerns and highlighting the great work Pet Blood Bank do to make it a positive experience for dogs,” concluded Dr Stacey.
“Some of our practices have been working with Pet Blood Bank as donation centres for years; we are always keen to help organisations and charities that share our goal of working hard to improve animal welfare.
“We hope that this campaign helps to raise awareness of the important service and that more dogs sign up to become donors. This really can help to save thousands of pets’ lives every year.”