To do that, the hospital has its own Animal Blood Bank with a dedicated core [sic] of 12 dogs and 11 cats who serve as regular donors, many of them the animal companions of students or staff members at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. “We actually have a waiting list of pets to become new donors,” notes Bach.Cats also need a more compatible blood-type cross match when they are getting transfusion.
The typical canine blood donor is a healthy, larger dog — more than 50 pounds — that has been screened for blood borne parasites and diseases that affect the qualities of blood. Importantly, the dog donor possesses a good nature.
“We don’t sedate the dogs,” explains Bach, who says a typical blood draw from a dog takes about 7 to 10 minutes. “Cats are certainly different than dogs. Cats are a little more reclusive and sometimes have a little higher stress level in the hospital. They are sedated.”
They also do horse and cow transfusions.
Their most recent resident donor horse, Drive Thru, retired this fall after seven years of donating blood and serving as a calming presence and companion for any skittish equine patients at the hospital. In the hospital’s large animal practice, Drive Thru was a star, getting presents and mail from the children of clients and visitors and occasionally popping his head into the waiting room for peppermint candy, his favorite.The resident cow donors are Maxine and Natalie, "beautiful and pampered Holsteins." How much blood goes into a cow getting a transfusion? 6 to 12 liters.