Blood Donor Program

Blood Donation Program

Just like humans, dogs and cats sometimes require blood transfusions. With advances in veterinary medicine, it is possible for vets to offer higher and higher standards of care for our patients.

Metropolitan Veterinary Center has the experience and expertise to provide this potentially life saving treatment. We maintain a supply of blood and plasma for dogs and cats in case of emergency or medical treatment. The blood is collected from donor pets that live with their owners, and all blood is carefully screened for disease.

Examples when pets may require a blood transfusion:

  • Emergency / trauma patients
  • Patients that require pre- or peri- operative surgical stabilization
  • Patients that have exposure to rodenticides or other toxins (poisons)
  • Anemic patients with acute or chronic diseases

Metropolitan Veterinary Center's Blood Donor Program

Our Blood Donation Program was featured on DNAinfo Chicago – view the article and video below to learn more.

Full Article: Greyhounds are Rock Star Blood Donors

Who is Eligible to Donate?

Pets that meet the following minimum requirements:

  •  Healthy and friendly
  •  Between the ages of 1 and 8
  •  Able to donate at least 4 times a year
  •  Weight 50 lbs. or more (dogs)/ 10 lbs. or more (cats)
  •  Pet is not on medication (except heartworm, flea and tick preventative)
  • Has never received a transfusion
  • Has never been pregnant
  • Pet is spayed or neutered
  • Vaccines are current

If your dog or cat meets the above minimum requirements, and you are interested in checking further to see if he or she can become a Blood Donor contact us to set up an appointment:

Phone: 312-583-1921

Email:  [email protected]

At your scheduled appointment, your pet will receive a physical exam.  Blood will be drawn for initial screening of your pet’s blood type.  If your pet’s blood type meets the requirements for our donors, a CBC, chemistry profile, heartworm test and infectious disease screen will then be performed.  Once these results are received, we will discuss if your pet qualifies for entry into our blood donor program.

Cat and Dog Blood Types

Blood types are determined by molecules (proteins and carbohydrates) on the surface of red blood cells. In humans, there is the ABO system of blood types, whereas animals have their own variety of  blood types.

Dogs have at least six well characterized blood types, also known as dog erythrocyte antigens (DEA). The antigens are DEA 1.1,1.2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. The blood type considered most important in dogs is DEA 1.1. Dogs that are negative for DEA 1.1 can give blood to dogs that are DEA 1.1 negative or positive, but dogs that are DEA 1.1 positive can only give blood safely to dogs that are DEA 1.1 positive. So, similar to the universal human donor blood type O negative, dogs have a universal donor type, DEA 1.1 Negative.  Overall, 7-10% of dogs are universal donors.  Interestingly, approximately 70% of Greyhounds are considered universal blood donors.  Additionally, Greyhound blood typically has a higher red blood cell count than other breeds, making them ideal donors.  For more information about Greyhounds or if you are interested in adopting a Greyhound, please visit:, check out our website or contact us. 

There are three major blood groups in cats — A, B and AB.  Type A is the most common blood type comprising 90-95% of the cat population in the United States.  Cats that are type AB can receive blood from either type A or type B cats, but type A and type B cats require they receive their respective blood type.

Transfused blood can last as long as 30 days depending on reason for transfusion.


Just like humans, pets may require blood transfusions to give the best chance of recovery and survival from various illnesses or traumatic events. 

For example, it is not uncommon for pets to require blood transfusions when bleeding internally from cancer, after being hit by a car, following ingestion of certain rat poisons or fighting immune mediated hemolytic anemia (the body’s destruction of its own red blood cells).

Although there are national blood banks from which blood can be ordered, there is often a delay of weeks after ordering to receive blood.  It goes without saying, having blood on hand for critical patients rather than waiting weeks for blood to arrive greatly increases the chance of survival.

Metropolitan Veterinary Center is committed to providing the best care for our patients and helping patients of surrounding veterinary hospitals by  implementing a blood donor program. 

Will I be paid for my pet being a blood donor?

In addition to the obvious benefit of helping to save another animal’s life, your pet will receive the following benefits while they are actively involved in the donor program:

  • The blood type of your pet will be determined.
  • Annual blood work including a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry screen, and infectious disease screen (i.e. tick borne disease and heartworm screening) will be performed.
  • Flea, tick and heartworm preventative will be provided on a quarterly basis.
  •  Prior to each donation, your pet will receive a full physical exam and have its red blood cell count checked for any changes since the previous donation.

Can My Cat Donate?

Absolutely!  As long as they meet the minimum requirements and pass all blood screening tests.

Is Sedation Necessary or Required?

A requirement of our canine donors is that they are able to sit quietly during the blood donation.  Cats generally require mild sedation for safety during jugular vein blood draw.  When sedation is used, a dedicated technician and veterinarian are monitoring the donor.

How long does giving blood take?

The donation process for a dog usually takes 20-30 minutes and the owner is encouraged to wait during the process. Due to sedation, it is recommended that cats stay in hospital for up to 3 hours for the donation and observation. Owners typically drop cat donor off at their convenience and return after the donation.

How Much Blood is Taken?

In dogs, approximately 400 to 450 mls (one pint/two cups) of blood is taken at each donation.  Cats can donate 50 mls (1.7 ounces/3.33 tbsp) of blood.

How Much Hair Must be Shaved?

An approximate 1-2 inch x 1-2 inch area will be shaved on the neck to allow for sterile skin preparation prior to venipuncture.

Are There any Risks Associated with Donation?

Potential complications from donation are uncommon.  The most common risks of blood donation is bruising, clipper burn or skin rash/sensitivity to antiseptic at the site of the venipuncture.  These issues are self-limiting and pose no serious harm to your pet.  It is also possible your pet may experience re-bleeding at the draw site and you should contact our office if this occurs.  In rare cases your pet may experience dizziness.  Again, these risks are minimal and will be treated promptly if they pose harm to your pet.

It is more challenging to keep our feline donors still during blood collection, therefore feline donors are often sedated for the procedure.  Routine sedation is generally safe and poses minimal risk.  We take every precaution to ensure the procedure is as safe as possible.

Is the Procedure Painful or Stressful to My pet?

The short answer is, “No”.  Blood donation is not painful for the blood donor.  If we find that a pet is too excited or stressed on a particular donation day they will be excused and welcomed back at a later date.  At that time, qualification for the program will be re-evaluated.  

Will My Pet be Weak Afterward or Is Special Care Required?

In only very rare cases does a donor experience dizziness following blood donation.  In place of the popular orange juice and donut reward people enjoy following donation, we provide our donors with baby food, treats and love before leaving the clinic. 

We also recommend limited exercise including shorter walks for the first 24 hours after donation.  You can offer a little extra food or treats that day as well.

If you would like to see if your dog or cat can be a blood donor, contact us to set up an appointment:

 Call Us: (312) 583-1921

Email:  [email protected]