Pet blood donation is a noble and life-saving act, yet there is very little awareness about it amongst pet parents. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Wiggles.in, 42% of pet parents weren’t aware that pets can donate blood. Let’s change that by knowing the basics of pet blood donation!
Do dogs and cats have blood types?
Yes, they do! And just like us, sometimes they need a blood transfusion too. As a pet parent, it is important for you to know about your pet’s blood type as giving your pet incompatible blood can be life-threatening.
What are blood types?
Blood types are defined by the presence of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells. These antigens are made up of protein, carbohydrates, toxins and other substances.
When a pet has those specific antigens, a pet is said to be positive for that particular blood group. If a pet does not have a specific antigen, they are said to be negative for that blood group. Knowing if your pet is positive or negative for a blood group is important. The comparison of blood group components is crucial as giving the wrong blood type can be dangerous for your pet.
Blood types in dogs:
The list of blood types in dogs is not final or complete because new blood types are still being discovered! Since mutation is always a possibility amongst animals, the emergence of new blood types is possible too. The newest blood type found is called- Dal which is mostly found in the Dalmatian breed of dogs.
There are over 13 recognized blood types in dogs but there are 4 blood types that are most commonly recognized. These blood types can be classified as positive or negative for each DEA (Dog Erythrocyte Antigen). Erythrocytes are nothing but red blood cells.
The most commonly recognized canine blood types are DEA 1 (Consists of DEA 1.1 and DEA 1.2), DEA 3, DEA 4 and DEA 5. An astonishing fact is that the DEA 4 blood type can be donated universally if there are no other antigens to be found. Most Doberman Pinschers (Around 75%) have the blood type DEA 4 with no other kind of antigens making them universal donors.
Blood types in cats:
Like dogs, the list of blood types in cats too is not complete or final. New blood types are still being discovered and the latest known blood type is called Mik.
In felines, there is only one blood group system i.e. the AB system. Like humans, cats have the blood types A, B and AB but there is no O blood type.
Most Domestic Short Hair cats possess type A blood and this is also the most common blood type in cats. All Siamese cats are known to have the blood type A. Blood type B can be found in exotic breeds of cats like Himalayan, Abyssinian, Somali, Birman, British Shorthair, Devon Rex and Persian. Blood type AB is the rarest to find in cats but is found in some breeds of cats like Scottish Fold, Birman, British Shorthair, Domestic Short Hair, Japanese Bobtail and Maine Coon.
What is blood transfusion?
Blood transfusion in pets is only required in acute and severe conditions. A blood transfusion is a medical procedure wherein the goal is to treat symptoms of anemia that are caused by disease, injury, surgery, toxicity or trauma. The aim here is to replace the red blood cells so that proper oxygenation of organs can occur. Blood transfusions are administered in a clinical environment by a veterinarian.
Process of blood transfusion
Before blood transfusion, a pet’s blood is cross-matched with the donor pet’s blood. Cross-matching is nothing but a test that determines if the two types of blood are compatible or not. Cross-matching is not required if your pet is receiving blood for the first time.
- After ensuring the donor’s blood is a match, an IV will be placed for the transfusion
- The process may last for 3-4 hrs depending on the quantity of blood required and the condition of the recipient
- The standard dose is 10 ml of blood per kg of bodyweight per hour
- The process of blood transfusion may be repeated until the main cause of anemia is managed
- Once done, the pet will be observed for a few hours to make sure that the pet is stable or not showing any signs of reactions
In what situations is a blood transfusion needed?
Although the following conditions can be treated with other methods, if they cause symptoms of anemia, a blood transfusion is necessary to save the life.
- Major surgery
- Canine distemper (in dogs)
- Low hemoglobin & platelet count
- Parvoviral infection
- Other conditions that cause a loss of blood
The sad and honest truth is that many pets never receive the right blood in time. As mentioned before, cats and dogs have different blood types and a transfusion of incompatible blood can be potentially fatal.
Looking for a donor, crossmatching the blood (testing the two types of blood to make sure they are compatible) and carrying out the transfusion is a time-consuming process.
The myths that surround pet blood donation make it harder for pet parents to find a compatible blood donor in time and more often than not the pet ends up losing their life.
Hence, Wiggles.in initiated the act called #BondedByBlood where we connect potential pet blood donors to pets in need of blood. All you have to do is fill up a google form, if your pet matches another pet, we will connect them to you when they need blood.
We urge you to register your pet as a blood donor under the #BondedByBlood initiative and save the life of another pet.
Process of pet blood donation:
The process of blood donation in pets is simple and your pet goes back to their normal self within 24-48 hours. Blood donation is always carried out in a clinical environment under a vet’s supervision.
- First, the vet will determine if your pet is healthy to donate blood. For blood donation a pet needs to be of the ideal weight, above 1 year of age, completely vaccinated, disease-free and if female she should not have been pregnant in the last 6 months
- Once these requirements are met, the donor pet is provided a comfortable environment
- The vet identifies the proper vein in the paw, inserts an IV catheter and attaches it to a specialized EDTA blood bag
- The process of collection lasts for less than 30 minutes and once done the pet is provided with a health supplement or an energy booster and is kept under observation for 2 hours
- After observation, the pet can go back home. It is recommended to provide the pet with food rich in nutrition and a healthy drink. Pet parents are also advised to monitor the energy levels for at least 24 hours
Prevention of blood transfusion in pets:
Prevention is always better than cure and that stands true especially for our pets. Although there are conditions where blood transfusion is not preventable, there are many other situations where simple vaccines and regular deworming can prevent a blood transfusion. Here are some ways you can prevent blood transfusion in pets.
- Regular tick and flea treatments:
Tick fever, if not treated in the early stages can be life-threatening especially for puppies. Tick-borne diseases if not controlled may require a blood transfusion for treatment. This can be prevented with regular tick and flea treatments like spot ons, anti-tick sprays and anti-tick powders.
- Regular deworming:
Intestinal parasites can also cause symptoms of anemia and lead to a need for blood transfusion. Regular deworming is necessary to protect your pet from diseases and to keep them healthy.
- Regular vaccinations:
Keeping your pet’s vaccination up to date also protects them from an array of diseases reducing the chances of blood transfusion.
- No access to toxins:
Ensuring that you keep toxic substances and foods away from your pet can help avoid any toxicity accidents and prevent a blood transfusion.
Conditions like immune-mediated anemia, emergencies like accidents leading to blood loss and cancer are some unpredictable conditions where blood transfusion cannot be prevented.
Many pets need blood to live a happy and long life. You can help them do that by registering your pet as a blood donor here.
If you have any questions, our team of experts is always here to help you out. Just call us on +91 8431620000 or reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you at the earliest.
*Disclaimer: This blog is vet-approved and includes original content which is compiled after thorough research and authenticity by our in-house team of vets and content experts. It is always advisable to consult a veterinarian before you try any products, pet food or any kind of treatment/medicines on your pets, as each pet is unique and will respond differently.