A new survey of pet owners which has been published in Vet Record finds that the majority of dog and cat owners are not aware of several blood donation schemes and blood banks for pets.
A large number of pet owners in this survey said that they were ready to allow their pets for donating blood. Researchers say that this suggests an increase in awareness can help in an increase of donors similar to human blood donation.
The need for animal blood has been increasing in veterinary practice. The percentage of pets donating blood is not clearly known but is supposed to be quite small. However, the demand for blood is more than the supply which is available.
Researchers from the Royal Veterinary College investigated awareness of pet owners for small animal blood donation. They also surveyed about their attitude and motivation of their pet being a blood donor. 158 dog and cat owners, over the age of 18 were surveyed for a period of 10 days. They were asked to fill an anonymous questionnaire regarding awareness of pet blood donation, motivations and concerns about their pet being a blood donor and whether they would be happy if their pet was fit to donate blood.
110 out of 158 were not aware that pets could donate blood, 118 were not aware that pet blood banks were there. 140 owners stated that they would allow their pets to donate blood if found suitable, 18 stated they would not. There was no major difference between the percentage of male and female owners who were willing that their pets donated blood. However, owners aged 71 or more and those who worked full time were less likely for letting their pets donate blood.
The most common motivation for pet blood donation was beneficence, the desire to help others. The next was the necessity of service, which refers to a recognition that blood products are needed and reciprocity, hoping helping others would make blood products available for their own pets.
Researchers have pointed out that this is a survey involving a very small sample size, only one clinic. As a result of this, the numbers may not match for a larger population. Although this is a good starting point in understanding the awareness of the general people about pet blood donation. Researchers conclude that recruitment of donors can be increased by increasing awareness among the pet owners. However, using animals for blood donation involves greater complexity and not all pets are suitable to participate in the process. Potential donors should be checked thoroughly by a vet before donating blood.