Why do pets require blood transfusions?

Just like with humans, our pets will sometimes require a blood transfusion. There are many reasons why a pet would need a blood transfusion these include, but are not limited to:

  • Anaemia (low red cell count);
  • Low blood protein levels;
  • And low platelet numbers.

Common causes for these problems are:

  • Organ failure of the kidney or liver;
  • Sudden blood loss from trauma or a bleeding tumour. This may occur inside a body cavity, and therefore be hard to identify;
  • The toxic effect of some poisons and illnesses;
  • Blood clotting defects;
  • Autoimmune diseases.

How is blood collected and given?

Transfusions can be given in a number of forms. These include as fresh whole blood, or stored blood that has been refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. We can also give components of blood, for example plasma (proteins including clotting factors). Each of these will have a different purpose. The most common blood transfusion performed is a fresh whole blood sample.

Can any pet donate?

In some instances, it is necessary to obtain information relating to a pet’s blood type, which allows us to match the types so that we lower the risk of complication. Both the donor and the recipient must be blood typed. Blood types are antigen markers on the surface of the red blood cells. To type your pet, a specific blood test is performed to indicate which blood type they have. Cats are more likely to have severe reactions to transfusions that have not been typed. Dogs are less likely to have a reaction if given their first transfusion, however subsequent transfusions without typing will often result in complications.

WellPet Vets is equipped to perform many types of transfusions.

If you would like more information or to volunteer your pet please call our friendly team

How is a blood transfusion performed?

Transfusions are administered intravenously with a special filter. Blood transfusion is done slowly at first so we can observe your pet for any adverse reaction. The speed of the transfusion may then be increased so that it can be completed over approximately four hours. Regular blood tests are performed before during and after the transfusion to monitor the success of the transfusion.

At WellPet Vets our blood donors are often volunteered. Our staff pets, just like nurse Cindy’s pet Ava pictured here, will be admitted into hospital, given sedation and have a measured amount of blood taken for the transfusion.

Unlike when humans donate, we do not provide a milkshake afterwards. Instead we replace the collected blood with intravenous crystalloid fluids to ensure the donor maintains their blood pressure and recovers promptly.

If you think your dog could help give lifesaving blood and is:

  • Healthy and up-to-date with vaccinations, heartworm prevention and worming;
  • Aged between 1-7 years old;
  • Weighs at least 25kg and is not overweight;
  • Has no significant current or previous illness;
  • Has never received a blood transfusion;
  • Has a friendly and obedient demeanor; and
  • Is able to lie still for 5-10mins

…then your dog could save lives by becoming a WellPet blood donor. Wether it’s a one off donation or a regular contribution your pet will become a life saver!

If you think your cat could help give lifesaving blood and is:

  • Healthy and up-to-date with vaccinations, heartworm prevention and worming;
  • Aged between 1-7 years old;
  • Weighs at least 5kg and is not overweight;
  • Has no significant current or previous illness;
  • Has never received a blood transfusion;
  • Has a friendly and obedient demeanor; and
  • Has been blood typed.

…then your cat could save lives by becoming a WellPet blood donor. Wether it’s a one off donation or a regular contribution your pet will become a life saver!

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