Blood transfusion


Blood transfusion

As a result of the growth in veterinary speciality services, the demand for blood transfusion has risen dramatically. However, blood and blood products are not readily available in most of the places in our country. Even in places where it is practical, there is a considerable delay in getting the donor, collecting and then transfusing. Non-availability of canine blood group antigens makes it difficult to type the blood groups of donor and recipient and give appropriate blood transfusion. Further, there are no referral blood banks dealing with whole blood and blood components in our country to cater to the needs of practicing vets.

What options are available?

The pet owner should arrange to get a donor dog from their friends or neighbours in most of the places. In cities like Bombay and Chennai, donor clubs are coming up which is a good thing for pet owners. Is blood transfusion needed? Undoubtedly blood transfusion makes a difference between life and death in cases such as trauma, surgeries, and anaemia caused by ticks, immune mediated diseases, Coagulopathies, Hypoproteinemia, Haemophilia A, Von Willebrands disease and blood loss.

What is blood component therapy?

Once the blood has been collected, it can be kept and used in its natural state or can be converted into a variety of components. These blood components are red blood cells, platelet rich plasma, platelet concentrates, fresh plasma, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate. Double, triple and quadruple blood bags (a single whole blood collecting bag with various satellite bags) are used for producing and separating components within a sterile closed environment. Blood component production is highly desirable for several reasons, particularly maximisation of the yield of products from a single blood donation and ability to use the optional products (in high concentration) for specific diseases. The most common blood components in western countries are whole blood, packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate.

Do dog have blood groups?

The dog has eight different blood groups identified as day erylhracyte antigens (DEA). They are: DEA 1-1, DEA 1-2, DEA 3, DEA 4, DEA 5, DEA 6, DEA 7 and DEA 8. Transfusions of incompatible blood types DEA 1-1 and 1-2 can result in haemolysis (transfusion reaction). Transfusion reactions usually do not occur in canine patients unless he has been previously transfused with incompatible blood. The use of blood negative for DEA 1-1 and 1-2 (Universal donors) prevents the formation of antibodies against these determinants in the transfusion recipient. It is important to use these universal donors for patients who require multiple transfusion over a period exceeding 10 days. Those patients who receive single transfusion, can receive blood from all donors after conducting cross-match compatibility.

How to form a blood donor programme?

Recently, commercial canine blood banks and community voluntary donor programmes are coming up. Donor clubs can be formed at every city with the cooperation of vets and willing owners. Donor can be arranged by local vet hospital, clinics and breed clubs. We need to have a pool of 10-30 healthy large dogs who are temperamentally cool and can sit comfortably for a donation. For this, you have to screen a larger group of dogs (hundreds). Free vaccination, deworming, free food (reduced price) and free veterinary check ups can be given complementary for the blood donor clients.

Who are eligible as blood donors?

Regularly vaccinated dogs between 1 and 9 year age group and weighing atleast 50 pounds are eligible for blood donation. Donor should not be under any medication. In case of female donor, she should not be in oestrus.

How blood collection takes place?

In dogs, blood can be collected from the jugular, radial or saphenous veins under aseptic conditions, after clipping the hairs over the area. For blood collection, commercially available blood bags of 350 ml capacity having anticoagulant can be used in practice. According to the body weight of the donor, we can collect blood @ 10-15 ml/kg body weight. Repeated collection can be done in dogs at the interval of 3-4 weeks.
(Dr. A.P. Nambi, M.V.Sc. is a Professor of Referral Clinics at Tamil Nadu Veterinary & Animal Science University. He has over20 years of experience. He has won PZ Sharma Gold medal (national award) for canine medicine in 2002. His areas of interest include internal medicine and dermatology. He can be contacted at: 9380173660 or e-mail: