National pet blood shortage impacts local animal hospitals

Posted at 4:12 PM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 21:52:09-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Pet blood banks across the country are experiencing a shortage, and it's affecting local animal hospitals in the mid-state.

When pets go to the animal hospital, they might need a blood transfusion. Emergency veterinarians across the country are scrambling to obtain life-saving blood, according to Dr. Julie Trzil. She said it's an issue that has worsened in the last year.

"They have a backorder at essentially all of the blood banks at this point in time; so we try our best to keep as much blood from them as we can," Trzil said.

At Nashville Veterinary Specialists, Dr. Trzil said they have a backup plan. Employees bring their own dogs to donate blood in emergency situations. Dogs like Raven have already gone through special screenings, and recently Raven helped save a dog's life.

"There is a dog universal blood donor, but they’re rare. They’re more common in greyhounds, even pit bulls tend to have more universal blood types, more often than other breeds," Trzil said.

Currently, there's not a pet blood bank in the Middle Tennessee area where pet owners can bring their dogs or cats to donate blood. Clinics order mostly from out-of-state.

"It’s a big investment to create a blood bank," Trzil said.

Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Franklin is affected too. Their company actually has their own donation banks around the country. As different companies work through the shortage, Dr. Trzil hopes a solution will be reached soon.

"Ultimately it is life saving," Trzil said.

The nearest pet blood bank is in Knoxville at University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine. Blue Pearl veterinarians said they have worked with them before. If you are visiting a city that accepts pet blood donations, dogs have to weigh more than 30 pounds, and be between 1 and 8-years-old. Cats have to be at least 10 pounds in size, and meet certain criteria.

In addition, pets have to be on routine heart worm and flea preventative medicine.