THEY say dogs are a man’s best friend – but they can be pretty kind to each other as well.

The country’s only blood bank for pets made its first visit to East Lancashire at Burnley’s Oakmount Veterinary Centre, in Trafalgar Street, yesterday.

Pet Blood Bank UK welcomed 17 canines and their owners as part of a national drive to increase supplies of dog blood.

Emma Hyman, animal care assistant for the charity, said the visit could become a regular one after yesterday’s success.

She said: “It’s going really well. It’s our first time here and we’ve got 17 dogs booked in. It takes about half-an-hour per dog but the actual process of extracting blood is only five minutes.”

For dogs to donate, they must be 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.

The process involves a health check and a five centimetre patch of hair being clipped back to allow cleansing solution and a needle to be placed into the jugular vein.

Although most dogs are type DEA 4-positive, a complex scale exists and transfusions between dogs with certain blood types are banned.

Ms Hyman said vets tried to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for the animals, with every successful donor rewarded with a goodie bag which includes an ‘I’m A Lifesaver’ bandana and tag.

She said: “They have to be over 25kg because we have to take a certain amount of blood [450 millilitres] into a human blood bag and that requires the dogs to be big enough to cope with losing so much.

“We try to make it as positive as possible for the dogs and their owners. We always have treats on hand and they generally enjoy it.

“We normally return to each centre every three or four months if the first session is successful so we’ll review how this one went and see.”

Each unit donated can help save four sick or injured animals, meaning a total of 68 dogs will benefit from the session.