Blood Bank

Frequently Asked Questions

If your pet meets the donor requirements, please contact us for an appointment. At that first appointment, we will perform a physical exam and screening bloodwork to review your pet’s health and see if your pet is ready to be a lifesaver.

Email: BloodBank@rbvh.net – this is the best way to get in touch with us!
Phone: (732) 747-3636 – ask for Lauryn in the Blood Bank

An initial exam with extensive blood screening is performed on each candidate. This bloodwork screening is complimentary for our superhero candidates.

To thank you and your pet for being part of our Pet Lifesaver program, your pet will be showered with love and treats. You will also receive one free bag of prescription pet food for your pet and a $50 credit on your Red Bank Veterinary Hospital account. We hope you will also feel proud and bask in the knowledge that your pet helped save multiple pet lives in one year!

After the blood is collected into blood collection bags, we use special equipment to separate the blood into different components. The first component is Packed Red Blood Cells which we store in a refrigerator for future use. The second component is called Plasma which we can freeze for up to a year. Each component is useful in treating different medical conditions. That means your pet can potentially save two other pets with one donation!

When pets arrive on donation day, we weigh them and perform a brief physical exam. Cats are ready to donate after receiving light sedation; dogs are positioned and held comfortably by our blood bank team. Blood is taken from a vein in your pet’s neck. The blood collection process takes between 5-8 minutes. After the collection, we wrap the neck with a bandage. Dogs are fed some yummy food, given lots of hugs and kisses, and monitored for a few minutes before going home. Cat donation is similar except our feline donors are monitored for longer as they recover from sedation.

Due to the high cost of screening prospective donors, we ask that you commit to at least two years of donations; every 8 weeks for dogs and every 3-4 months for cats. Donations are by appointment only and scheduled at your convenience. You are welcome to wait at the hospital during the donation process (about 30 minutes for dogs, 2 hours for cats), or you can drop off your pet and come back later.

Dogs can donate blood safely every 6-8 weeks. Cats can donate blood safely every 3-4 months.

We try to select dogs that are able to sit quietly during most of the donation. We know this can be a challenge for active dogs so we also have trained assistants to help comfortably and gently hug and hold our donors during the donation process. Keeping your dog occupied and focused on treats during the donation also works for some pets. Let us know what your dog’s favorite treat is, or bring it along for us to try during their donation appointment. We are happy to spoil our donors! Cats, however, do need to be lightly sedated for blood donations for their own safety. This sedation protocol is formulated by our anesthesiologists and overseen by a specialist on staff during donations.

Just like in people, the size of “a unit” of blood is based on well-established standards for safe donation amounts based on your pet’s individual weight.

All blood donors are screened and examined to ensure, to the best of our ability, that blood donation is safe! The amount of blood drawn during a donation is not enough to negatively affect your pet’s health. The donation process is very quick and we keep the experience as stress-free and positive as possible. The most common side effect is bruising at the site of the blood draw that resolves within a few days.

Nothing! Since you and you your pet are ‘volunteering’ to donate, we cover all costs.

Dogs: We look for dogs with good temperaments that are happy and comfortable in new environments (especially hospitals). Dogs must be between the ages of 1-7 years old and weigh more than 50 pounds. They must also be healthy, up-to-date on vaccines, and have no history of major disease.

Cats: We prefer cats that are somewhat comfortable with the process of coming to the hospital, which can be a challenge! Cats must be between the ages of 1-7 years old and must weigh more than 10 pounds. They must also be healthy, up-to-date on vaccines, and have no history of major disease.

Yes, but their typing systems are different from human blood typing!

Cats have two major blood types (A and B) and a rare blood type (AB). Up to 90-95% of all cats in the United States are Type A. Cats can only receive blood transfusions of their own blood type, so we carefully screen the blood of the donor and the recipient to avoid any complications.

Dogs have at least 6 different blood types known as Dog Erythrocyte Antigens (DEA). At Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, we blood type all of our blood donor and blood recipients to ensure the best match. More advanced blood testing, called cross matching, can be utilized for dogs and cats that have had transfusions in the past.

There are many different reasons why a pet may need a lifesaving blood transfusion and you and your pet can seek treatment at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital for all of them.

These reasons can be categorized into 3 general causes of anemia (low red blood cell count).

  1. Major blood loss or bleeding may necessitate a blood transfusion. This may be caused by trauma (a fall, getting hit by a car), surgery, or other major illness such as cancer.
  2. Destruction of red blood cells at the microscopic level may be caused by diseases such as infections, toxins (penny ingestion), immune system malfunctions (i.e. immune mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA), or cancers.
  3. Decreased production of red blood cells can be caused by bone marrow disease. This may include infections, cancers, toxins (certain medications), or cancers.

Just like in people, the size of “a unit” of blood is based on well-established standards for safe donation amounts based on your pet’s individual weight.


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