Many pet owners are surprised to hear that like people both dogs and cats can have blood transfusions. Here at VRCC transfusions of several types are done regularly.
Dogs and cats are most commnly given transfusions of packed red blood cells (PRBCs). PRBCs are used to restore the oxygen carrying capacity to the blood of a patient that is suffering from anemia (a condition characterized by a decreased number of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood), and are one of the most important blood components used in transfusion medicine.
Small animals may also receive a transfusion of plasma for conditions causing abnormal blood clotting and low protein levels. Most commonly these conditions are seen in animals exposed to rodent poisons such as D-Con.
Currently we get whole blood, PRBCs and plasma from blood banks where the blood donors are tested for many types of infectious diseases and are blood typed. Years ago the only blood products available were from dogs and cats owned by staff at veterinary hospitals or community members.
Dogs and cats have blood types that are different from each other and different from people.
Cats have either type A, type B or type AB. Type A is most common in the US. Cats do have to be blood typed prior to the first transfusion as they produce antibodies to other blood types.
Dogs have a more complicated blood typing system involving many different factors. Their blood type system is called the DEA (dog erythrocyte system). Dogs do not have to be blood typed for the first transfusion, but do need blood typing for later transfusions.
Transfusions save the lives of many of our dog and cat friends.