What Pet Owners Should Know about Animal Blood Types and Transfusions

Have you ever wondered about blood types for your furry friend? While you know that humans have an ABO blood typing system, you may not know how blood typing works for dogs and cats and how this could affect the health of your pet should it ever need a blood transfusion. Learn more below so that you can feel more knowledgeable the next time you talk to your veterinarian or need to make a life-changing decision for your pet.

Canine Blood Types

There are eight major categories of canine blood types that have been discovered although more certainly exist. Of those, the most common blood type is called DEA 1.1. Within that blood type, some dogs are DEA 1.1 positive and others are DEA 1.1 negative.

Feline Blood Types

In general, cats have A, B or AB blood type. Most US Domestic cats have type a blood. On the other hand, B is most often found in international or exotic cats. Type AB blood is extremely rare.

Crossmatching

Dogs and cats should all be typed and crossmatched before receiving a transfusion. However, in some emergency cases, there may not be time for typing, and crossmatching only may occur. With typing, a blood sample is taken to determine what type of blood the pet has. Crossmatching only tests to make sure that the donor’s blood is compatible with the other animal’s blood.

Transfusions for Pets

Sadly, there are no universal donors for cats, and cats must instead be crossmatched with a cat that has the same blood type as them for good results. For dogs, DEA 1.1 positive is a universal recipient, meaning it can receive 1.1 positive or negative blood, and DEA 1.1 negative is the universal donor. Blood banks do exist for pets. Dogs that are above a certain weight and that have never been pregnant may be approved to be regular donors. However, in emergencies, many veterinarians search for an animal within their facility that can be used as a quick blood donor.

Of course, this is just the basics of blood typing for the most popular pets that people keep in their homes. Researchers have discovered even more intricate blood types in dogs than are listed above, and cats are likely to have a variety of different chemicals in their blood that have not yet been identified. By knowing and understanding your pet’s blood type, you and your veterinarian will be better prepared to treat your dog or cat and protect it from mismatched transfusions.

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