A Swindon animal hospital and an animal blood donor charity have teamed up to encourage more owners to volunteer their pets as lifesavers.
Eastcott Veterinary Referrals, based in Edison Business Park, is partnering with Pet Blood Bank (PBB) UK to host regular dog blood donation sessions at its hospital.
The first is set to take place on Tuesday, August 11.
The specialist-led referral centre, part of the UK-wide Linnaeus group, often receives life-saving blood and plasma from PBB UK.
Recent cases include that of nine-year-old dachshund Heidi, whose needed transfusion to tackle the anaemia which left her lethargic and exercise-intolerant.
Vanessa Woolhead, internal medicine specialist at Eastcott, said: “Heidi’s condition warranted an immediate blood transfusion to increase her circulating red blood cells to an acceptable level, and it transpired she actually required three blood transfusions."
Further diagnostic tests by Eastcott’s internal medicine team revealed that Heidi was suffering from non-regenerative immune mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA).
Vanessa said: “IMHA is a condition in which the body destroys red blood cells. Heidi’s condition was so severe that is also prevented her bone marrow from producing new red blood cells to replace those being destroyed.
“So, we started Heidi on immune-suppressive treatment for her condition and have been closely monitoring her progress at Eastcott.
"The internal medicine team are thrilled with how her condition is improving.”
Vanessa paid tribute to PBB UK, which provides a blood and plasma service to vets across the county.
She added: “Thankfully, Pet Blood Bank is able to work similarly to the human blood bank.
“They collect blood from donor dogs to distribute for dogs such as Heidi. This service is lifesaving for those dogs who lose excessive blood due to medical conditions, challenging surgeries or serious injuries such as road traffic accidents.
“They have more than 11,000 generous canine donors registered - however, stocks are always in high demand.
"We are so pleased we are now able to start helping them with their supplies.”
Every unit of blood a dog donates can help save the lives of up to four other dogs around the UK, and the team at Eastcott are urging owners to sign up their pets to become lifesaving donors.
To be a blood donor, dogs must be fit and healthy, aged between one and eight years, weigh more than 25kg, have a good temperament, have never travelled abroad and be fully vaccinated.
They must not be taking any medication.
Anyone interested in finding out whether their dog could help is asked to visit www.eastcottreferrals.co.uk to find out more.
Information about the UK Pet Blood Bank can be found at www.petbloodbankuk.org/