DOG owners across South Lakeland have been urged to offer up their pooches to become potentially life-saving blood donors.
It comes after a 15-month-old Border Collie came close to death when it ingested rat poison.
The dog was effectively drowning in her own blood and was in need of an emergency transfusion when she was taken to Westmorland Veterinary Group, on Natland Road, Kendal.
Luckily Gunner, a German Shepherd owned by one of the nurses at the practice, was on hand with a unit of blood and the canine went on to make a full recovery.
But following a series of poisonings in the last few months, vets at the practice are now calling on dog owners to sign up to their transfusion database.
“It’s often a matter of life and death,” said Gerard Winnard, senior small vet animal at the practice.
“Ideally you need to get the blood fresh and within a couple of hours.”
He said there are around 10 currently on the list but was desperate for more.
“It’s not just rat poisoning but a range of issues we need the blood for,” added Mr Winnard.
“It’s handy to have a number of dogs on there as inevitably some will move away.”
The Border Collie was said to be very lethargic and had very pale gums when she was brought in.
Tests revealed that she had bled severely into her chest.
Her owners remembered she had passed blue faeces a few days earlier.
Vet Mary Crackles recalled: “Rat poison pellets are usually blue and kill rats and mice by causing internal bleeding.
“We gave her Vitamin K which is the antidote to the poison, but she had lost so much blood that she needed an emergency blood transfusion to save her life.”
Dogs have blood types but it is safe to give one transfusion without cross-matching.
Both dogs were awarded brave pets of the month by the practice, which has also encouraged owners to be aware of slug pellet poisoning.
Slug pellets contain the chemical Metaldehyde which is extremely toxic and leads to collapse, seizures and death.
Vet Emily Sapsford said: “The pellets are flavoured which makes them very appealing to pets.
"Even if they are under garden mesh dogs will sniff them out and eat them.”
Potential donors are asked to visit the surgery for a free nurse check. Details are then kept on file so if an emergency arises dogs can be brought in to give blood.
Donor dogs need to be:
*fit and healthy,
*weigh more than 25kg
*aged between two-eight-years-old
*never have travelled abroad