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Did You Know, Your Pet Can Be A Blood Donor?

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Could your cat or dog be a lifesaver?

Just as people do, our furry little friends can donate blood as well. Dogs and cats are capable of being blood donors to other dogs and cats in need and, it is usually a simple process provided that the donor meets all the requirements.

There are many reasons as to why a dog or cat would need donated blood, much the same as humans. For instance, if the pet had lost a lot of blood due to surgery or accident and desperately needed a blood transfusion, or alternatively some diseases can necessitate an urgent blood transfusion.

Your veterinarian can take a blood sample from your dog or cat to determine the type of blood it has and, it must be tested to see what antigens it contains. Not every veterinarian will have the means to test this in-house and so samples may be needed to be sent to an external laboratory.

Blood types between dogs and cats vary and the differences are inherited with the antigens on the surface of the blood cells defining the blood type. Just as it would with a human.

Normally the first transfusion will be under emergency circumstances and, a dog can receive any type of blood on it first transfusion as it is more than likely that no adverse reaction will occur. However, if further transfusions are needed, then again just like humans, the type of blood will need to typed and crossmatched to ensure the blood types are compatible. Usually with dogs, having specific antigens on its red cells will mean it is positive for that group whereas if the red cells do not have a given antigen, then the dog is within a negative group. Of course, this then becomes incredibly important as giving the dog the wrong type of blood can have severe consequences. Dogs can only donate blood every 4 to 6 weeks and doing so more frequently, can endanger the dog.



Cats like humans, tend to have very strong antibodies against the wrong type of blood meaning that if their immune system recognises noncompatible blood as foreign, it will attack and start to destroy the blood as though it were a virus.  Unfortunately, cat blood cannot be stored in the same way as human and dog blood can be. This means currently, blood banks for cats do not work. This means that usually cats will have to be kept specifically to be blood donors.

Blood types between dogs and cats vary and the difference are inherited with the antigens on the surface of the blood cells defining the blood type just as it would with a human.

If your cat or dog needs a transfusion, it is always advisable to have their blood type checked just in case further transfusions are needed down the line.

Transfusion medicines and practices have made great strides within recent years and now blood banks are starting to appear across the U.K with one of the first blood banks being launched in 1989. Pet Blood Bank, who have been a registered charity since 2006, have pioneered some of this change and have carried out extensive research to help advance pet blood banks as much as possible.

They are open 24/7 to help our pets when in need and are always looking for new donors.

We still have work to do and charities like Pet Blood Bank need our help. You can find more about them and what they do in more depth here.


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