BLAINE, Minn. — If you haven't heard of pet blood donors, you aren't alone.
"It's not as commonly aware to people that we have dogs and cats that can donate blood to other dogs and cats," said Dr. Jen Myers, medical director at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Blaine.
Myers says that might be part of the reason the majority of donors at the hospital are the pets of employees.
Vet technician Tanya Jergenson's dog, Cedar, is one of them.
"This is his 24th donation, so he has saved up to 48 dogs' lives," she said while performing the donation on Cedar.
Jergenson and Myers say that BluePearl's Blaine location is one of few places in Minnesota that does animal blood donations. Both dogs and cats can be donors.
Dog blood is not breed specific and is easier to match, but cats are tricky. Cats can only take blood from a cat with their exact blood type.
Myers says type B blood in cats is exceptionally rare. She says it took them years to find a single donor. That's one reason they want to expand their pool of donors, hoping to diversify the blood types in their bank.
"When your animal needs a blood transfusion it's usually not something you plan for," she said, "It's usually some sort of crisis."
The donation takes about an hour.
Pets can donate every four weeks. Dogs must weight at least 50 pounds to donate. Cats need to weigh at least eight.
Older animals are not allowed to donate.
A pet donor's blood is screened prior to donating. Because of this, donors get free blood work. They also get free flea, tick, and heartworm prevention.
If you're interested in your pet becoming a donor, email email@example.com.