Blood Transfusion And Donation With Dogs: Can My Dog Give Blood?


Just like humans, dogs and cats can also need blood transfusions for a variety of reasons. Currently, pets are dying due to a lack of canine and feline blood donations.This shortage is due to the difficulty in storing animal blood and a general lack of information about how to donate.We have gathered all the information concerning dog blood donations. However, if you have any more questions, don't hesitate to talk to your vet.

1. When is a blood transfusion necessary for dogs?

A dog may need a blood transfusion after an accident or perhaps because of an illness.When a dog is hit by a car, the bleeding from its wounds often require an urgent blood transfusion.The same can be said for when a dog swallows rat poison or has a serious illness such as leukaemia or a tumour. Spleen tumours are very common with German Shepherds, for example.

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Source: Sydney School of Veterinary Science

Anemia (due to an ulcer, parasites, insufficient red blood cells etc) and problems with clotting are other instances in which a blood donation from another dog would be needed.Lastly, during a surgical operation, a blood transfusion can be necessary no matter the type of problem.As you can see, there are many cases which require blood donations with all breeds being concerned.

2. How does a blood transfusion work with dogs?

If it's the first time your dog is having a blood transfusion, then the blood type they receive doesn't matter.However, if your dog has had a blood transfusion before, then the vet must make sure that the donor blood is compatible. There are eight different types of blood groups for dogs: DEA 1.1, 1.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.A quick way for vets to check the compatibility of the two different blood types is through a test called "cross-matching". The plasma of the dog receiving the blood is mixed with the blood of the donor dog. If a hemolysis occurs, that is to say the destruction of red blood cells, then the blood is incompatible.[caption id="attachment_47189" align="alignnone" width="608"]

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A test to find out a dog's blood type (Picture) Source: Vegactu[/caption]If both the blood types are compatible, then the transfusion can go ahead. Next, the blood bag is placed in a water bath of 100°F so that it stays warm.A drip is then placed in the dog, usually at the same level as the front or back legs or the jugular vein, in the neck. The flow of the transfusion is always very slow, especially with cardiac animals.During the transfusion and in the hours which follow it, the dog is kept under constant veterinary supervision. Their heartbeat, temperature and blood pressure are regularly checked. The color of their mucous and urine can both be indicators of complications.Sometimes, the dog can have an allergic reaction to the donor's plasma. This will happen during the first hour of the transfusion. The dog will itch itself, its head will swell and a rash will appear. If this happens, the transfusion will immediately be stopped and the dog will be treated for the appropriate allergic symptoms.

3. Can my dog give blood?

If your dog meets the following criteria, then it can give blood:

  • It weighs more than 30kg.
  • It is between two and eight years of age.
  • It is in good health (an exam will be carried out to check that it doesn't suffer from any hereditary diseases or babesiosis, leishmaniasis, ehrlichiosis, parvovirus, brucellosis and dirofilariasis).
  • It has been wormed and is up to date on its vaccines.
  • It hasn't had a transfusion itself.
  • If it's a bitch, then she can't have had a litter.
  • It is calm and behaves well in a medical environment.

Dog blood donations usually last around 30 minutes and the amount of blood taken depends on the size and weight of the donor. A dog can give a maximum of 20% of its blood but slightly less is always taken just to be safe.

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Source: I love my dog

The blood is taken from the same level as the jugular vein, in the neck. This is where the blood flows the quickest. A numbing gel or cream can be used for the dog's comfort.Each individual donation must be at least three weeks apart and only four donations a year are advised. Just like humans, dog's are advised to eat, drink and sleep a bit beforehand.

4. Why should I donate my dog's blood?

Donating your dog's blood can save the lives of their fellow canines. Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to store dog blood as it must be used within the following four hours or placed in a refrigerator for a maximum of 15 days.If your dog meets the necessary criteria for donating blood and provided that you are okay with them doing this, then inform your local vet. This small act of kindness could end up saving many lives.

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