A new concept in blood donation has started in the East Midlands with the opening of a blood bank for pets.
Fleur, a Newfoundland dog, was one of the first to donate blood
The Pet Blood Bank charity in Loughborough, Leicestershire, will store blood donated by dogs to be used for transfusions all over the UK.
The blood bank will only store canine blood at first, but is expected to provide feline blood in the future.
Like humans, dogs benefit from transfusions during surgery and to treat major traumas and disease.
Canine blood drives
Previously, in order for a blood transfusion to take place, a donor dog had to be available when the blood was required.
A change in legislation in October 2005 made it possible to apply for licensing to bank pet blood products.
The concept was tested at a veterinary centre in Gateshead.
The blood bank, supported by Vets Now, will collect canine blood which will be processed into various blood products and sold to veterinary practices across the UK.
From March, owners of dogs weighing more than 25kg and between one and eight years old will be asked to volunteer their pet for donations in a series of blood drives.
Wendy Barnett, executive director of Pet Blood Bank UK, said, "One donation can help as many as four dogs and virtually all larger types of dog can donate.
"This is the first time pet blood will be stored in Britain, and dogs across the country will have access to the products through their veterinary practices."
The blood is treated at the centre with the plasma and red blood cells stored separately.