The Wyatt Goldthwaite Veterinary Blood Bank at RBVH
There are many reasons why a pet may need a blood transfusion. Patients of Red Bank Veterinary Hospital are fortunate to have access to the Wyatt Goldthwaite Veterinary Blood Bank.
Blood Saves Lives in Pets
Blood products are necessary for supplying oxygen and fluids to the body’s organs. Transfusions help in a variety of medical situations such as surgery, trauma, and treating various blood disorders.
Like humans, dogs and cats have blood types. The process of determining blood type, called cross-matching, can be done in minutes to ensure the safest transfusion.
Our blood bank carries a supply of both canine and feline blood products. We have a number of volunteer donors that help save pet lives by donating to our blood bank. Their donations ensure that there are blood products available for patients experiencing a health crisis.
The Wyatt Goldthwaite Veterinary Blood Bank
The Wyatt Goldthwaite Veterinary Blood Bank began in 2007, thanks to a generous donation by the Goldthwaite family in memory of their beloved dog, Wyatt. While being treated by the RBVH Oncology Department, Wyatt was the recipient of several blood transfusions.
It was the family's hope that a dedicated blood bank would enable RBVH to continue providing advanced care and blood products to critically ill patients.
Our Blood Bank Mission
- To provide a reliable humane source of veterinary blood products for canines and felines;
- To provide education to hospital staff and clients about blood product donation and usage; and
- To ensure blood products are used properly to best benefit the patients of the RBVH Healthcare Network.
Join the Pet Lifesaving Team
Are you interested in having your pet become part of our volunteer donor team?
The RBVH blood donor program is currently open to our canine and feline patients of sound health and gentle nature. Donors should be:
- Between 1–7 years of age at the start of the program
- A minimum of 50 pounds for dogs; 10 pounds for cats
- Spayed or neutered
- Current on vaccinations
- Taking heartworm preventive (dogs only)
- Using flea and tick preventive (dogs only)
- Housed indoors (cats only)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do pets need blood transfusions?
There are many different reasons why a pet may need a lifesaving blood transfusion and you and your pet can seek treatment at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital for all of them. These reasons can be categorized into 3 general causes of anemia (low red blood cell count).
- Major blood loss or bleeding may necessitate a blood transfusion. This may be caused by trauma (a fall, getting hit by a car), surgery, or other major illness such as cancer.
- Destruction of red blood cells at the microscopic level may be caused by diseases such as infections, toxins (penny ingestion), immune system malfunctions (i.e. immune mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA), or cancers.
- Decreased production of red blood cells can be caused by bone marrow disease. This may include infections, cancers, toxins (certain medications), or cancers.
Do dogs and cats have blood types?
Yes, but their typing systems are different from human blood typing!
Cats have two major blood types (A and B) and a rare blood type (AB). Up to 90-95% of all cats in the United States are Type A. Cats can only receive blood transfusions of their own blood type, so we carefully screen the blood of the donor and the recipient to avoid any complications.
Dogs have at least 6 different blood types known as Dog Erythrocyte Antigens (DEA). At Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, we blood type all of our blood donor and blood recipients to ensure the best match. More advanced blood testing, called cross matching, can be utilized for dogs and cats that have had transfusions in the past.
Which dogs and cats can donate blood?
Dogs: We look for dogs with good temperaments that are happy and comfortable in new environments (especially hospitals). Dogs must be between the ages of 1-7 years old and weigh more than 50 pounds. They must also be healthy, up-to-date on vaccines, and have no history of major disease.
Cats: We prefer cats that are somewhat comfortable with the process of coming to the hospital, which can be a challenge! Cats must be between the ages of 1-7 years old and must weigh more than 10 pounds. They must also be healthy, up-to-date on vaccines, and have no history of major disease.
How much does it cost for my pet to be screened and donate blood?
Nothing! Since you and you your pet are ‘volunteering’ to donate, we cover all costs.
Is blood donation risky or painful to my pet?
All blood donors are screened and examined to ensure, to the best of our ability, that blood donation is safe! The amount of blood drawn during a donation is not enough to negatively affect your pet’s health. The donation process is very quick and we keep the experience as stress-free and positive as possible. The most common side effect is bruising at the site of the blood draw that resolves within a few days.
How much blood is drawn during the donation?
Just like in people, the size of “a unit” of blood is based on well-established standards for safe donation amounts based on your pet’s individual weight.
How often can my pet donate?
Dogs can donate blood safely every 6-8 weeks. Cats can donate blood safely every 3-4 months.
Is my pet sedated during the donation process?
We try to select dogs that are able to sit quietly during most of the donation. We know this can be a challenge for active dogs so we also have trained assistants to help comfortably and gently hug and hold our donors during the donation process. Keeping your dog occupied and focused on treats during the donation also works for some pets. Let us know what your dog’s favorite treat is, or bring it along for us to try during their donation appointment. We are happy to spoil our donors! Cats, however, do need to be lightly sedated for blood donations for their own safety. This sedation protocol is formulated by our anesthesiologists and overseen by a specialist on staff during donations.
What kind of commitment is required to be part of the donor program?
Due to the high cost of screening prospective donors, we ask that you commit to at least two years of donations; every 8 weeks for dogs and every 3-4 months for cats. Donations are by appointment only and scheduled at your convenience. You are welcome to wait at the hospital during the donation process (about 30 minutes for dogs, 2 hours for cats), or you can drop off your pet and come back later.
What goes on during the actual donation process?
When pets arrive on donation day, we weigh them and perform a brief physical exam. Cats are ready to donate after receiving light sedation; dogs are positioned and held comfortably by our blood bank team. Blood is taken from a vein in your pet’s neck. The blood collection process takes between 5-8 minutes. After the collection, we wrap the neck with a bandage. Dogs are fed some yummy food, given lots of hugs and kisses, and monitored for a few minutes before going home. Cat donation is similar except our feline donors are monitored for longer as they recover from sedation.
What happens to the blood my pet donates?
After the blood is collected into blood collection bags, we use special equipment to separate the blood into different components. The first component is Packed Red Blood Cells which we store in a refrigerator for future use. The second component is called Plasma which we can freeze for up to a year. Each component is useful in treating different medical conditions. That means your pet can potentially save two other pets with one donation!
What are the benefits of the blood donation program?
To thank you and your pet for being part of our Pet Lifesaver program, your pet will be showered with love and treats. You will also receive one free bag of prescription pet food for your pet and a $50 credit on your Red Bank Veterinary Hospital account. We hope you will also feel proud and bask in the knowledge that your pet helped save multiple pet lives in one year!
How does my pet become a donor?
If your pet meets the donor requirements, please contact us for an appointment. At that first appointment, we will perform a physical exam and screening bloodwork to review your pet’s health and see if your pet is ready to be a lifesaver.
Email: BloodBank@rbvh.net – this is the best way to get in touch with us!
Phone: (732) 747-3636 – ask for Lauryn in the Blood Bank
An initial exam with extensive blood screening is performed on each candidate. This bloodwork screening is complimentary for our superhero candidates.
Become a pet lifesaver...
Once accepted into the program, donations are performed by appointment only, at your convenience! On donation day, a drop-off service is available, but you are more than welcome to wait for your pet. The donation appointment is typically completed in less than one hour. This appointment includes an exam each time prior to donation and a closely-monitored recovery. The actual donation, which takes about 10 minutes, is followed by a reward – your pet is spoiled with large doses of TLC! Canine donations are typically performed without sedation, but cats require a mild, safe sedative for the procedure.
Only a small percentage of your pet’s blood is drawn during the collection process and the body begins to replace that amount immediately. We will shave a small square of hair from under the neck to collect the blood as part of the sterile blood collection technique.
Pet Lifesaver Rewards
We are so grateful for all the pets that help to save other pet lives. To help thank them, your pet will receive:
- Complimentary blood transfusion, should your pet ever need one
- Complimentary bag of prescription pet food
- Complimentary physical exam
- Complimentary comprehensive lab testing annually
- $50 Credit on your RBVH account
Please note: These tests and exam do not replace regular wellness care. We expect you to stay current with your pet's veterinary visits and recommended vaccines.
Make an Appointment
If you feel your pet is a good candidate for our program, please call or email us for more information.