Do You Know Your Dog's Blood Type?
Your beloved dog is hit by a car. You didn't see it happen but you were there seconds later. He seems ok, he stood up and hobbled towards you after it happened. Moments later he collapses in your arms. He is conscious, most likely in shock. You take him to the closest veterinary hospital.
The staff at the hospital were prepared for his arrival due to the fact that you had called them on route to the hospital to let them know what had happened. They quickly whisk him to the treatment room and begin to administer first aid. With masked oxygen, some pain relief and intravenous fluids started the Veterinary Team begin to assess further injuries that your little one may have sustained. Upon X-ray it is confirmed that your dog has a broken pelvis. Not life threatening (or so it appears at this stage) but some surgery will be needed after your pet has been stabilised.
While you are filling in your paperwork to admit your pet into hospital the veterinarian in charge comes out to see you to advise that your dog is becoming unstable. "He is having some trouble breathing and his gums are white. We suspect there is some internal bleeding and we will need to give him some blood straight away! Do you know his blood type?"
This is probably a question that most dog owners had never considered prior to an event such as this.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW AS A PET PARENT
Dog Blood Types
There are over 13 canine blood groups that have been described. Known as Dog Erythrocyte Antigen or DEA. The most important of the groups and what can be tested for in veterinary clinics is DEA 1. This is the least antigenic group or least likely to cause a reaction. If your dog is blood typed it will be typed DEA 1.1 Positive or DEA 1.1 Negative.
DEA 1.1 Positive
If your dog is blood typed and the result is DEA 1.1 Positive, this means that your dog can receive blood from a DEA 1.1 Positive or DEA 1.1 Negative dog. However, if you volunteer your dog for a blood donor program then your dog's blood is best to be given only to a DEA 1.1 Positive patient.
DEA 1.1 Negative
Conversely if your dog is blood typed DEA 1.1 Negative then your dog should only receive blood from a DEA 1.1 Negative donor. If in a donor program, your dog's blood would be highly sought after as it can be transfused to both DEA 1.1 positive or DEA 1.1 Negative patients.
So why is it handy to know my dog's blood type?
When we humans are born into the world one of the mandatory blood tests that is performed is blood typing. So for the rest of our lives we know our blood type in case of an emergency. This is very handy information for us humans but what about our canine family members. Well, blood typing of dogs (and cats) is not commonly done unless you volunteer for a blood donor program or your pet needs an emergency blood transfusion. It doesn't need to be that way at all. You can request with your veterinarian that they blood type your dog at any time you visit your veterinary clinic. There are reliable blood typing kits available for in clinic use that with a small drop of blood can provide you and your vet with an answer within 2 minutes. With this, you are also provided with a blood type identification card for your dog in case the need ever arises for your dog to receive a blood transfusion.
SO WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
It is important for your dog to receive the right blood type to "minimise" the risk of transfusion reaction. Also, if your pet requires multiple transfusions, receiving the correct blood type from the 1st transfusion can help decrease the risk of reaction or "rejection" from subsequent transfusion.
It is important to note: There is no "Universal Blood Type" for dogs that can be tested for in Australia so if your dog requires multiple transfusions they may need to be "Crossmatched" (have an internal or external compatibility lab test performed) prior to transfusion.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
The most important thing now is that your dog receives the blood it needs. With any kind of bleeding or decrease in red blood cells in the body (this can happen for many reasons) it is important for the body's tissues to receive oxygen including the brain, heart and kidneys. This can only be facilitated through red blood cells, so if your pet does not have enough they need to get some in pronto!
Most veterinary hospitals will either purchase commercial blood products from a registered animal blood bank or they may run their own in-house donor program, (more often than not, both of these methods will be used to meet blood transfusion demands in veterinary hospitals). In-house donor programs are especially important when the EMERGENCY transfusion is required or you may have another dog at home that may be able to assist with donating. All options can be explored in conjunction with your veterinarians advice but keep it in mind especially if you have a sibling of your pet at home (i.e litter mates and usually over 25 kg).
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
- Be prepared if your pet ever requires a blood transfusion. It is important as a pet parent that you know your fur kids blood type in case the situation should ever arise. Ask your vet about blood typing.
- The right blood type given to your pet can minimise the risk of transfusion reactions including further illness and death.
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