Norwich vets saving lives with dog blood bank

Donating blood can save lives – and that's exactly what is happening at a Norwich vets where dozens of people's beloved pets are being saved thanks to a pioneering blood bank just for dogs.

Taverham Vets set up the service at the start of the year, shortly after it began an emergency clinic.

Customers are asked to bring their pets to the clinic on Fir Covert Road for a short 15 minute procedure that provides a lifeline for other ill pets.

Toby Morrell, a veterinary surgeon at the practice, said: 'It's in many ways based on a human blood bank.

'It's been a massively helpful thing to us and the clients. It's saved nearly every dog we've had to use the transfusion on.'

Only dogs are catered for because of a quirk in their biology which means that a donation from certain animals can be safely given to any other dog, no matter which of the 17 canine blood types it belongs to. Offering the same service for cats would require many times the amount of donors.

A sample of 350ml is taken from each dog and stored for up to four weeks or until needed. Usually the sample is used well before it expires.

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'We've thrown very, very little away and sometimes we end up doing a couple of transfusions over a weekend,' said Mr Morrell.

He said that one dog was recently saved from a rare blood disease thanks to the service, after Michael Fowell, 73, volunteered his six-year-old greyhound Fred to give blood.

'He donated the required amount and this apparently was used the following day to save another dog's life. It's not something that happens every day,' said Mr Fowell, who lives on Beech Close in Gimingham.

He said that Fred had been 'fit as a fiddle' throughout his life, despite being badly treated by his previous owners, and that donating blood was important to help those animals which were less fortunate.

'I'd like to think that somebody would do the same for Fred if the situation ever arose,' he said.

'He suffered no ill effects. He was a bit subdued for about 24 hours after giving blood, as human beings tend to be, but after his tea and biscuits, metaphorically speaking, he was back again fighting fit,' he added.

As a reward, each dog is sent home with a goody bag containing food and worming tablets.

If you require any further information about Taverham Vets visit or call 01603 867330.

Do you have a pet that has beaten the odds? Call reporter Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439, or email