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Animal Blood Register
 

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  About blood transfusions

Will my pet be unwell after a donation?
Donor animals should be checked by a veterinary surgeon that they are fit and healthy enough before making a blood donation, in which case the risks of donation are very small.

Will I be paid for my pet being a donor?
Traditionally, donations are made without payment although, sometimes, a gesture of goodwill may be offered by the veterinary practice taking the blood. This is not something the Animal Blood Register can oversee and is a matter for the owner of the donor and the practice.

How might a transfusion be used?

Blood transfusions have many uses and can be critical, life-saving procedures. Blood loss through injury e.g. road traffic accidents or other causes of bleeding, such as rodenticide (warfarin) poisoning can lead to death or make any anaesthesia to treat underlying damage very risky. In these circumstances, fresh whole blood can make all the difference! Sometimes, an animal’s immune system can attack its own red blood cells (immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia), and blood transfusions are necessary to prevent fatal anaemia whilst medical treatment is working.

As well as fresh blood, in some circumstances, whole blood can be stored for anticipated usage or even divided into component parts and stored e.g. fresh frozen plasma. In the latter case, one donation can help two or three patients!

Blood types and Cross-matching
Dogs and cats, like humans, have blood groups and can be blood typed. Ideally, donor and recipient should be type matched. This is critical in cats.
As well as typing donor and recipient, cross-matches can be performed to confirm compatibility, and are recommended where the recipient has had a previous transfusion. This test involves incubating donor and recipient serum and red blood cells and looking for a reaction outside of the body that indicates an increased risk of a reaction inside the body if the transfusion is given.

What is an ideal blood donor?
An ideal blood donor is a friendly, healthy, clinically normal animal that is not pregnant or has not produced a litter if an unspeyed bitch. Donors should be vaccinated (although not within 10-14 days before donation) and free of infections and parasites, especially blood borne disease.

How is blood obtained?
Blood can be collected in unsedated dogs if they are cooperative, which is often the case for those of an easy-going temperament. Collections can also be made from the sedated or anaesthetised animal if necessary. Cats typically need sedation or general anaesthesia for an effective collection.
Blood is usually taken into standard human blood bags or syringes that contain anti-coagulant. A large accessible vein is needed-this is typically in the neck or, sometimes, the cephalic vein on the front of the foreleg. The area is usually clipped and cleaned and aseptically prepared before insertion of the needle. After donation an area of swelling and bruising may be seen which should fade over a few days.

You may be interested in reading this description.

How much blood is taken?
A standard blood donation in the dog is 450ml (‘one canine unit’) and this can safely be obtained from a 25kg dog; smaller amounts may be obtained from smaller dogs. In cats a volume of 11-13 ml/kg is typically taken.

How often can my pet give blood?
Repeated blood donations over a relatively short period of time can lead to anaemia, and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. For this reason, after a donation is made and recorded on our database, the donor will be blocked from being called via the registry for three months
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