A recently reported shortage of canine blood in Canada has far reaching impacts, including for dogs in Central Alberta.
Red Deer’s Animal Emergency Hospital does purchase blood from the Canadian Animal Blood Bank, who had recently reported the national shortage.
But the hospital located in Red Deer’s north end also relies on a small group of donor dogs.
Tara LaBas, who is responsible for donated canine blood at the Animal Emergency Hospital, said they use about three bags a month from the CABB.
“That’s definitely gone up,” she said. “It’s been hard to get from them (CABB). We’re trying to increase our program.”
The CABB, a national charity, collects and distributes up to 100 units of canine blood to veterinary clinics across the country every week.
CABB has two permanent locations, in Edmonton and Winnipeg, but also operates donor drives at veterinary clinics throughout Canada. All clinics held in Edmonton take place at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. It is a not-for-profit organization supported by the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association and Red River College, in Winnipeg.
To donate, dogs need to be more than 55 pounds (24.94 kgs) between the ages of one and eight years old, have current vaccinations and an even temperament.
LaBas said dogs can only donate blood once every eight weeks. On Wednesday, the hospital only had one bag of donated blood, but could draw on its smaller local base of donors.
“There definitely is a shortage,” said LaBas. “If we get emergencies, that blood goes very quickly. I try to have a bag of blood in the fridge at all times.”
The blood can be used for “trauma patients,” LaBas said or there are some illnesses dogs can get that would require a blood transfusion.
LaBas also said Christmas can be a time when emergency animal hospitals need more blood.
Clinics in Edmonton and Calgary held five donation drives last weekend to help increase the supply of blood at the CABB. According to CABB, one donation of blood can save up to three dogs.