Did you know that dogs may need life-saving blood transfusions, just the same as humans do? If your dog picks up a disease, eats rat poison or loses blood from trauma; then a blood transfusion could save his life.
DO DOGS HAVE DIFFERENT BLOOD TYPES?
There are 8 DEA (dog erythrocyte antigen) blood groups, but the most important one is the DEA 1 group. If a dog is said to be DEA negative then they are universal donors and can donate blood safely to any other dog in need.
A DEA positive dog shouldn’t be used as a donor as there is a higher risk of a transfusion reaction occurring in the recipient, especially if the recipient has had a previous transfusion.
Greyhound dogs are considered to be the best blood donors as they are all DEA negative. However, many large breed dogs are DEA negative too.
HOW DO I FIND OUT MY DOG’S BLOOD TYPE?
The best way to know is to do blood typing with specific blood typing kits. This is important if your dog is going to be a registered blood donor, but your vet will be able to do this test in practice.
In an emergency situation, your vet can perform blood cross matching to make sure the donor and recipient are compatible before doing a life-saving blood transfusion.
WHICH DOGS CAN RECEIVE BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS?
All dogs who need blood can receive one transfusion even if it’s from a DEA positive donor. In many cases of emergencies, or when blood cross matching isn’t available, this may be necessary to save his life.
CAN MY DOG HAVE MORE THAN ONE TRANSFUSION?
Yes, DEA negative blood can be given more than once to a dog if they need it. However, once a dog has received a blood transfusion of DEA positive blood, they are far more likely to react to a second or third transfusion. This is because the body creates antibodies which are designed to attack the foreign blood should it enter the body a second or third time.
Always tell your vet if your dog has had a previous blood transfusion because it’s important that they then receive DEA negative blood from a blood bank or from a proven DEA negative donor.
CAN MY DOG BECOME A BLOOD DONOR?
Many vet practices have blood banks or have blood donors on call for emergencies. Some may offer discounted vaccinations or other perks if your pet comes in to save the day.
Speak to your vet to see whether you and your dog can make a difference. Your pet will need to meet certain criteria, such as being the right age and body weight, have a health screening, strict tick and flea control programme and blood typing test done before he can put his superhero cape on and start saving lives!