Pet blood donation: Can your dog give a life-saving gift?

Izzy the greyhound with her pink bandage following her blood donation. Photo: courtesy of GRNSW.
Izzy the greyhound with her pink bandage following her blood donation. Photo: courtesy of GRNSW.

Not all heroes wear capes.

Izzy, the greyhound, came out of her latest heroic effort with just a little pink bandage to show her role in saving another dog's life.

Izzy is part of the Greyhounds As Pets program and has been fostered by the program's regional coordinator for the Northern Rivers, Louise Amey.

An animal lover, Louise has been caring for four-year-old Izzy since she came into the program in April 2021.

Since then, Izzy, who was bred as a racing dog but never took to the track, has thrived.

A rare dun colour, which makes her look a little like a kelpie, Izzy loves her walks and is good with cats and small dogs.

She suffers from a bit of stress when she's apart from Louise, but she's getting better all the time.

Greyhounds As Pets, a not-for-profit organisation coordinated by Greyhound Racing NSW, works to find suitable matches for greyhounds and their new forever families.

The organisation works to provide a good fit between the dogs and their prospective families, taking into account lifestyle, activity level and temperament.

While she is very happy to join Louise's family of pets at home, Izzy was recently part of another dog welfare push: blood donation.

It's a really good thing to do with your dog. It does save dogs' lives.

Louise Amey, regional coordinator for Northern Rivers, Greyhounds As Pets program

Just like humans, dogs can need a blood donation for a variety of reasons - after blood loss due to an injury; for treatment of bleeding or clotting disorders; to address toxins such as rat bait or snake bite; for use during surgeries; and for a host of other conditions.

According to the University of Sydney's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, dogs can donate every three months if they fit specific criteria.

This includes being fit and healthy, between one and eight years of age and meet weight requirements.

Also, like us, dogs have different blood types, but greyhounds are special.

They are referred to as "universal blood donors".

The Greyhound Health Initiative states that this is not technically accurate, but more than 85 per cent of greyhounds indeed have a blood type that can be used in all other dogs.

That's where Izzy recently came to the rescue.

As a former vet nurse, Louise was contacted to see if she could help when a small dog needed an urgent donation at a local clinic.

"The vet clinic rang me to see if I had a male greyhound to use as a donor and the dog they needed it for needed blood urgently. It was critical," she said.

While she is not male, Izzy offered a ready solution, and with time being a factor for the dog needing the donation, she was quickly at the Casino clinic.

The little dog who required the treatment survived, and Izzy will likely be tested to see if she is a universal donor to allow her to make future donations.

Louise encouraged other dog owners to consider signing up their pets as donors.

"It's a really good thing to do with your dog," she said.

"It does save dogs' lives."