Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue

Harlequin Haven
Great Dane Rescue

11567 St. Rt. 774
Bethel, Ohio 45106

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Blood Transfusion

Various species require different levels of testing to ensure a compatible match. Cats have 3 blood types, cattle 11, dogs 12, pigs 16, and horses 34.

Blood is species specific--dogs can receive only dog blood and cats can receive only cat blood. In addition, dogs and cats have blood types just as humans have blood types. Cats have A, B, and AB groups with specific factors within these groups that further differentiate them. Dogs have eleven different blood groups; the most important one is the A1/A2 system. Dogs that are A negative are considered universal donors.  In dogs, DEA 1.1 (Dog Erythrocyte Antigen) has been found to be the part of the blood type most likely to cause a transfusion reaction. The blood type in dogs is either DEA 1.1 positive or DEA 1.1 negative. There are however, other parts to the canine blood type, including DEA 1.2, DEA 3, DEA 4, DEA 5 and DEA 7. In order to determine the full blood type, blood needs to be submitted to a special laboratory. Cats do not have a universal donor; therefore, it is especially important that donor and recipient are cross matched.

Multiple transfusions can also be a problem. Even though the donor and recipient may be compatible originally, the recipient's immune system may build up a sensitivity to a specific donor. Therefore, every time you transfuse, you need to cross match to make sure that your donor and recipient are compatible.

There are two types of cross matching tests, major and minor cross matching. In major cross matches, red cells from the donor are mixed with serum from the recipient. Then observe to see if there is a reaction, as the recipient may attack donor cells and not accept them. If you have a major cross match incompatibility, unless you are desperate, you shouldn't do a transfusion. In a minor cross match, the recipient's red cells are compared with the donor's serum. Usually, in minor incompatibilities, parts of the donor's blood can be given to the recipient but not the blood in its entirety.

The different blood components red cells, plasma, and platelets can be separated if need be. Red blood cells are given to a patient that may be anemic due to trauma or due to a treatable disease. Plasma is used to build up blood volume in situations when the animal is not making enough or is losing too much protein. Platelet rich plasma is for those patients whose platelets are depleted or dysfunctional.

As with human blood donors, animal donors are tested to make sure blood values are high enough and no infectious disease is present before blood is drawn. Donors must meet weight requirements--10 pounds for cats and 50 pounds for dogs. Fluid is replaced after blood is drawn, and the body compensates by producing new red blood cells. Also similar to human donors, there must be a waiting period of at least two months before blood is collected again.

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