Columbus Pets Guide: Four-Legged Blood Buddies

Dogs need blood donors, too.

Amanda Page
In this 2006 file photo, vet Liliana  Marin, left, and blood bank managing director Maria Cristina Iazbik, right, lift a greyhound named Hank on to a table so that Hank can give blood to the blood bank at Ohio State animal hospital.

When a dog at Riverside Animal Care in Dublin needed a blood transfusion in the middle of a splenectomy, Courtney Kindler and Mandy Albert of The Greyhound Health Initiative started spreading the word about the need for donors. After a segment on WBNS-TV and a plug on CD102.5, they received lots of inquiries—but not a lot of dogs fit the criteria. 

To be a blood donor, dogs must be over 50 pounds, between 1 and 8 years old and healthy (up-to-date on their vaccinations, annual exams, and heartworm, flea and tick preventative medications). The hardest characteristic to find, however, is a calm temperament. Dogs must sit still for the 10-minute procedure. 

Browning became a dog blood donor after her racing career ended when she suffered a broken leg, the most common injury among racing greyhounds. The dog arrived at Ohio State University’s 4 Legs 4 Hounds program, which provides care for injured greyhounds from Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack in West Virginia. Third-year veterinary medicine student Caroline Thompson fostered Browning, until it was clear that they belonged together. Thompson filled out the necessary paperwork to officially adopt Browning, and the dog became a blood donor. “She loves coming to the blood bank because she knows she gets food after,” Thompson says. 

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The blood bank at the OSU Veterinary Medical Center is always looking for blood donors, and greyhounds make good ones. They often weigh more than 50 pounds, have a calm temperament and about 95 percent have a universal blood type. Only 40 percent of other dog breeds have universal blood. 

One benefit for dog owners is that dogs who donate blood often receive free veterinary care. At The Greyhound Health Initiative, Kindler says donor dogs receive core vaccines, annual exams, and free heartworm, flea and tick preventative treatments.