Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Dogs help canine comrades by donating blood

By Peggy Swager Special to The Gazette - Published: February 4, 2014

For those of you who donate blood, kudos to you. This is a heroic action. My husband began doing so when he was 19 and in the U.S. Army.

Even if you are not a blood donor, your dog might be able to fill that role. Just as people have blood needs, dogs might require a transfusion because of injuries or disease. A plasma transfusion can save the life of a dog with parvo.

The blood collected is processed into packed red blood cells and plasma. One canine blood donation potentially can save four lives.

I learned about dogs donating blood because my daughter's dog, Arwin, is a donor. Every month or two, Arwin goes to HemoSolutions (hemosolutions.com) in Colorado Springs. Rebecca Nusbaum, a certified vet technician at HemoSolutions with a specialty in emergency and critical care, knows how to make sure the dogs are relaxed and happy when they donate.

Nusbaum likes to give back to the donors. Screening a donor to be in the program is quite expensive, so to help recuperate that cost, she asks that dogs donate at least six times a year. After the first year, HemoSolutions arranges to give the dog owner's vet a $150 credit to be used on visits or heart worm medications.

If you are interested in having your dog help the area's blood needs, you'll find there are restrictions. Your dog needs to weigh at least 50 pounds, and the dog needs to be between a year old and 8 years old. The dog also needs to be current on its vaccinations and on a heart worm preventative from April to October.

Some might wonder if this is a painful process. It typically is not. For that reason, HemoSolutions never needs to sedate a dog. Instead, the staff offers lots of belly rubs. The process only takes a short bit of time, and afterwards the dog is given a treat.

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Swager is a behaviorist and dog trainer who has authored several books and a DVD on separation anxiety. More training information is available at peggyswager.com.

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