Getting blood from dogs? Easy! But cats? Not so much.
Getting blood from dogs? Easy! But cats? Not so much. Paula Hackett talks with her dog Tosey, a 5-year-old Great Dane, inside the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school's animal bloodmobile
Getting blood from dogs? Easy! But cats? Not so much.
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Dogs giving blood? Sure! But cats? Not so much.

If man's best friend is a dog, then who is a dog's best friend? That would be Rover. Or Glow. Or Ivan or Raina.

The four canines recently donated precious pints of blood to their fellow pooches. And they did it without having to travel far from home: They visited an animal bloodmobile.

Similar to the Red Cross vehicles for humans, the University of Pennsylvania's traveling veterinary lab goes to where the donors are to make it easier to give.

"You don't really think about it until you actually need it," said Kym Marryott, manager of Penn's Animal Blood Bank. "Just like in people, dogs need blood too."

Officials at Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine said they don't know of any other animal bloodmobiles operating in the U.S. Theirs makes weekly rounds through suburban Philadelphia and New Jersey.

Dogs must have the correct blood type, weigh at least 55 pounds and be younger than 8 years old. Owners volunteer their pet for the short procedure, which requires no sedation.

However, Marryott said it's the dog that ultimately chooses to lie still and give.

"If (the dog) wanted to get up and leave, he could," said Marryott. "But they're really good about it, they trust their owner."

About 150 dogs participate in the program. Each donates three or four pints a year, which can help animals suffering from illnesses like cancer or an accidental trauma like being hit by a car. One pint can save up to three dogs.

Sandy Lucas brought her 7-year-old black German shepherd to the bloodmobile last week, when it was parked at a strip mall in Harleysville about 14 miles from her home.

The Pottstown, Pennsylvania, resident said she wouldn't have braved highway traffic and city parking problems to take the dog to Penn Vet's animal hospital in downtown Philadelphia, which is twice as far. But the bloodmobile made it convenient to find out if Raina could donate, she said.

"I was very, very thrilled that she had the right blood that was needed to help another dog out," said Lucas. "We'll definitely do it again."

Just like people, the furry donors get a snack and a heart-shaped "U of P Blood Donor" sticker immediately after giving. In addition, they receive free blood screenings and dog food to take home.

And what about a catmobile? Perhaps not surprisingly, felines are bit less cooperative. They need to be sedated in order to give blood, so Penn does that only at its animal hospital.

Critical thinking challenge: Why does the bloodmobile make collecting blood easier?

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  • NM16
    5/15/2014 - 08:40 a.m.

    Its cool how dogs can give blood to other dogs that are sick or need it just like humans. The bloodmobile makes collecting blood easier because it comes right to your house and you don't have to worry about finding a parking space.

    5/15/2014 - 05:31 p.m.

    Its very interesting how dogs can give blood to other dogs that are sick or need it just like humans do. Many people probably don't know about this but it is a need just like humans giving blood and it must help lots of dogs. Just like humans giving blood dogs also have requirements for giving their blood. People giving blood must be at least 17 years old, weigh 110 pound, and be healthy. To give blood dogs must be under 8 years old, weigh at least 55 pounds, and have the right blood type.

  • n.m.11blue
    5/16/2014 - 01:04 p.m.

    I think that this is great for other dogs. They can have a family with friends that are other dogs to help them. It's absolutely adorable.

    6/01/2014 - 09:59 p.m.

    It is wonderful to know that dogs can donate blood to assist their fellow four-legged friends. The mobile blood-receiving stations are also extremely convenient to the dogs' caretakers because they don't have to travel far distances. Mobile stations also provide appointment scheduling and walk-ins for dog owners' convenience. The process is humane because the dogs do not have to be sedated and if the dog is uncomfortable, the procedure is stopped, as the dog can leave at any time. This service is relatively unknown, but as animal lovers find out about it, this practice will become more popular and will help to save animals' lives.

  • Haley Patterson
    10/31/2014 - 01:55 p.m.

    I have noticed the different behaviors of animals in the vets office. Dogs seem to be calm and take whatever is coming while cats flip out and do whatever it takes not to get a shot. I know my cats act this way when they are in the vets office. They actually become a little mean. My dog on the other hand is excited to see everyone and everything and really doesn't react when he is getting checked or getting a shot.

  • Haley Patterson
    1/20/2015 - 01:54 p.m.

    I noticed that it is easier to take blood from dogs rather than cats. I have a dog and a cat and my dog doesn't really pay much attention to it, but when my cats are getting shots and getting blood taken, they flip out.

  • MalikH3
    2/11/2015 - 10:28 a.m.

    You do have to think about it. Dogs are a bit more calmer than cats. I should know I had a dog and a cat.
    Our cat didn't like if we tried to pet it , but our dog loved the attention. Dogs would prefer to in the spot-light getting attention, but cats prefer to be lazy at times.

  • John0724-YYCA
    4/28/2015 - 08:34 p.m.

    I never knew that the dogs need blood like us people does. Well I do know that dogs do have blood but they need blood from other dogs to live in some circumstances like us which s really weird in my opinion but I wonder if the dog wants to give blood or the owner just takes him or her to a hospital and give the blood to a random dog or puppy.

  • annabel1226-yyca
    4/30/2015 - 07:37 p.m.

    Dogs helps the people a lot unlike pesky cats. They help people by guiding the blind, giving bloods, and rescue dogs. Dogs are really useful. We should take care of dogs more because they are loyal, helpful, and playful but cats owners have to just give them food and they will do their business by them selves.

    Critical thinking challenge: Why does the bloodmobile make collecting blood easier?
    Answer: Dogs because they give away their dog if they don't want to they do not need to give away their blood but dogs trust their owners so most of them does it.

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