Just like in people, there are occasions when a blood transfusion will be necessary for your pet.
Common reasons for transfusions are different types of anemia (low red blood cells) or internal bleeding. The process of getting the blood is quite simple, just like donating blood at the “blood bank”. Blood can only be shared with the same species. (i.e. a cat cannot tolerate a transfusion of dog blood and vice versa).
The blood is collected from a donor animal in a blood collection bag that has substances in it to prevent blood clotting. It can then be delivered into the patient via an IV line. The animal must be monitored carefully during the transfusion for any reaction. There is often a very rapid improvement in the recipient after getting a life saving transfusion. A dog or cat may receive one transfusion from any donor without having a cross match. Subsequent transfusions will need a cross match. There is no longer a blood bank in Victoria. Commercially available Red blood cells come from QLD.
The most suitable donors are quiet larger breed dogs or large cats as they can tolerate giving a bigger volume of blood. If the donor is too boisterous it may be given some sedation during the transfusion. It’s a great feeling if your dog is chosen to save a life and be a blood donor!