Iron status in blood donor dogs

J Vet Intern Med. Jan-Feb 2014;28(1):211-4. doi: 10.1111/jvim.12254.


Background: Despite the popularity of canine blood donor (BD) programs, there is scarce scientific information regarding iron status in this canine population of dogs.

Objective: To assess iron status in dogs used in a blood donor program.

Animals: A total of 130 healthy dogs (75 BD, 55 controls [C]) were included. A subset of dogs (n = 12) were used to evaluate the effects of repetitive donations by having a second and more recent sample analyzed.

Methods: Serum iron concentration (SI), unsaturated iron-binding capacity (UIBC), total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), and percentage transferrin saturation (%SAT) were obtained. Values were compared using a 2-way ANOVA (factors: BD status, breed). For the subset of BD, the first sample (less frequent donors -LD-, after a mean of 3.8 donations) was compared to a second sample (experienced donors -ED-, mean 13.6 donations) using a paired t-test.

Results: SI (183.7 ± 55.3 μg/dL) and %SAT (55.7 ± 17.4%) were higher and UIBC (152.6 ± 73.3 μg/dL) was lower in BD dogs than in C (153.9 ± 51.7 μg/dL, 43.8 ± 17.8%, and 224.1 ± 120.6 μg/dL, respectively). Also, UIBC and TIBC were lower, and %SAT higher in Greyhounds when compared with non-Greyhounds. ED had decreased %SAT and increased UIBC and TIBC when compared with LD.

Conclusions and clinical importance: Our canine BD population did not have iron deficiency and had higher SI concentration than C. However, ED (~14 consecutive blood donations every ~8 weeks) developed a mild iron deficiency, although values were still within canine reference intervals. Greyhounds have higher %SAT than non-Greyhounds, which might be a breed-specific peculiarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Donors
  • Dogs
  • Hematocrit / veterinary
  • Iron / blood*
  • Transferrin / analysis*


  • Transferrin
  • Iron