We all know about the lives that are saved through the donation of blood to be used in patients during emergencies, surgeries, and with certain medical conditions, but how many of us realize that the same is possible for our dogs and cats? Many of the same considerations are utilized when determining a candidate for blood donation in pets as in humans. They must be in good health, free of disease and blood borne illness, and of an appropriate weight to allow for donation. For cats to be considered as donors, they must weigh at least 10 pounds, although 12 is often preferred. Dogs must weigh no less than 50 pounds to be considered as a blood donor. Donation often takes 1-2 hours and may be able to be performed at a local veterinary clinic or veterinary university. Several veterinary schools have set up blood banks in order to decrease the cost of receiving blood and the availability of the proper blood type. Pet owners interested in allowing their pet to be a donor must often be available to transport their pet to the facility where donation is to occur. Donors are usually asked to sign on for a specific period of time and can only donate every few months based on their size and health. Both dogs and cats must have a mild temperament that will ensure the pet is able to remain in a relaxed position during the donation.
Blood typing is used in pets much the same way it is for people. If a pet receives the wrong type of blood, severe, life threatening conditions often result and are likely to cause death. Cats have 3 blood types; A, B, and the rare AB. It is estimated that 95% of the cat population in the United States is type A, although many pure bred exotic cats have been found to be type B. One instance in which blood typing may also be of importance for cats is during breeding. A kitten that has a blood type opposite of its mother is more likely to have medical issues due to antibodies that transfer from the queen (mother cat) to her young during nursing. These kittens often fail to thrive and may even die acutely. Dogs, on the other hand, have 13 separate blood types. Certain blood types are often noted in certain breeds. For example, greyhounds frequently make great blood donors because they are more likely to have the universal blood type of A negative; whereas, a more uncommon type to match is often found in Labradors.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information about Pet Blood Donation or visit: http://csuvth.colostate.edu/diagnostic_and_support/blood_bank/
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff