DOG owners are being urged to turn their canine companions into life-savers by having them donate blood.

Boundary Veterinary Centre, in Abingdon, will be holding its first blood donation session on Saturday, September 9.

More than 1,000 dogs needed a transfusion last year and head nurse Nicky Heilling thought it was time local canines had the chance to help.

She said: “It seemed like it would be a good idea to hold a more local blood donor session as the nearest ones at the moment are in Chipping Norton, Banbury and Swindon.”

The 40-year-old explained the process was very similar to human blood donation, adding: “The dogs don’t seem to mind much, as they get made a fuss of and are given a bowl of food and other goodies but it can make a huge difference to other dogs in need.”

The entire process takes around 40 minutes and during the actual donation the dog is encouraged to lie down and relax with their owner by their side.

However, not all hounds can give blood, and there are strict criteria in place.

Dogs need to be fit and healthy, between one and eight-years-old, weigh more than 25kg, have a good temperament, have never travelled abroad, be fully vaccinated and not be on any medication.

Ms Heilling explained: “The problem is we have to use human blood bags because no one has created dog ones yet and they hold a lot of blood.

“I have two border collies but they are too small to donate, they wouldn't be able to cope with losing that much blood.”

The session will be run by Pet Blood Bank UK, launched in 2007 to provide a canine blood bank service for all veterinary practitioners across the UK, with the aim to provide quick and convenient access to blood.

The blood is taken to their processing centre in Loughborough in Leicestershire, where it is separated into red blood cells and plasma products, and then stored ready for despatch.

It is used for many purposes including cases involving trauma, surgery and disease, with Pet Blood Bank UK estimating a single donation can help as many as four dogs.

Though limited to dogs at the moment it is hoped in the future felines will also be able to give blood.

To become a donor, dog owners must register their pet online via and will then be able to attend any of the sessions held throughout the UK.