Have a big dog? Their blood donation could save another pet

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Sometimes, veterinarians, just like doctors who care for humans, need to use donor blood when treating pets

And, just as with human blood banks, the pandemic has meant a nationwide shortage of dog and cat blood. The biggest animal blood bank in our area is at the North Carolina State University vet school.

"We have patients that have experienced trauma, that require blood products," said Dr. Sarah Musulin, who heads up the center. "We have patients undergoing surgical procedures. We have patients with blood disorders."

Musulin is well aware of the national shortage of pet blood during the pandemic because there have been issues locally, too.

"We have donors that are up to donate, yet the families aren't able to come in, related to COVID," Musulin said.

There have also been shortages in supplies needed to collect and distribute blood during the pandemic because of manufacturing issues related to the pandemic, according to Musulin.

Fortunately, the vet school has still been able to maintain its plasma supply thanks to dogs like Aria, a Great Pyrenees mix.

Aria's donations during the past five years make her a dog hero, according to her owners Kim and John McHugh.

"It's nice to know where we're helping other dogs in ways that you don't typically think of when it comes to your pets," Kim McHugh said.

Like other donors, Aria can be called in for emergency donations.

John McHugh recalled doing that at midnight one Saturday saying, "They drew the blood, and they knew they were going to take the blood right to this dog who was having a bleeding issue."
Right now, the vet school has about 45 canine donors but ideally would like to have 50.

Owners of large dogs with good temperament can apply online at the vet school's website.

"We do currently have a list of potential donors that we're working through, but we always are looking for excellent donors," Musulin said, and she added that the supply of feline plasma is also adequate right now, so the blood bank is in pretty good shape.

That blood will help family pets having planned or emergency procedures survive surgery or things like blood disorders even during the pandemic.

"It's been wonderful to be able to practice medicine here and have access to blood products supplied to save those lives," Musulin said.
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