arlo and nelson, the lovely golden retrievers

Meet Arlo & Nelson - the retrievers who save lives reading-time-icon 2 min read

The world sure needs all the heroes it can get in 2020, but who says all heroes have to be human?

Golden retrievers Arlo & Nelson were applauded by the team at My Family Vets at Bath Vet Group recently when they donated blood to help a critically ill patient.

You may be shocked to find out that, just like with humans and human medicine, blood transfusions can play a crucial role in aiding the treatment of pets undergoing surgery or other treatments – usually for emergency or life-threatening conditions.

‘I’m super proud of Arlo,’ says Daisy Nickels, Arlo’s owner, who’s also a Veterinary Surgeon at Bath Vet Group.

‘This is his first time giving blood. Dogs must be between one and eight years of age to be eligible to donate, and Arlo has only just turned one.’

Why are blood transfusions so important for pets?

‘Well, they work in exactly the same way – and have just as many uses – as they do in human medicine. The main difference is that when it comes to pets, lots of people aren’t aware that pets giving blood is a thing.

‘As vets, we do often struggle in emergency situations where pets are critically ill and have lost a lot of blood. It’s not possible to have a blood donor bank in practice, so we need to rely on owners bringing their pets in for donations when we need them.  

‘We have a donor list, and it’d be great to spread the world to as many owners as possible: if your dog or cat is healthy, we’d love for them to join.’

In what type of scenarios would a poorly pet benefit from a blood transfusion?

‘Pets usually need a blood transfusion if they lose a lot of blood during surgery, or if they’ve been in a tragic accident. Other common causes include auto-immune conditions, or anaemia.’

lovely retriever sticking tongue out

Can you describe the procedure?  

‘The procedure is quick and painless – for dogs as well as cats.

‘Before your pet joins the list, we’ll take a sample to determine which blood type they are. Once they’re a registered donor, you’ll effectively be on a waiting list.

‘The more pets we have on our list, the higher a critically ill pet’s chances of survival!’

Nelson, Arlo’s co-star, is 2-and-a-half years old and belongs to Samantha Lane, who’s also a Veterinary Surgeon at Bath Vet Group.

Both pets regularly accompany their owners to work, although they hadn’t met before they were called upon to donate blood.

‘They were in neighbouring kennels – it was adorable,’ says Daisy. ‘In typical retriever fashion, they got along like a house on fire!’

We take our hats off to these canine heroes and their owners.

Interested in signing your pet up to be a donor?

All dogs or cats can join a blood donor list, as long as they:

Looking for a vet in Bath? Bath Vet Group are part of My Family Vets, providing exceptional care for pets and great service to their owners.

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