Behind the scenes in canine blood donation

Animals, including dogs, may need blood donations at critical points in their lives.

The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna has operated a blood bank for dogs for more than a decade. 

Reasons for a blood transfusion among dogs (and cats) are usually serious accidents, large operations, certain types of cancer, cases of intoxication with rodent poison, serious infectious diseases such as the tick-borne babesiosis, and blood illnesses including haemolytic or inherited bleeding disorders such as haemophilia.

At the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna dog owners can bring their animals to donate blood regularly or as needed. Blood donations two to four times a year per dog is the maximum. About 15 minutes are required for a donation. Dogs must have a minimum weight of 25 kilograms and usually donate about 450 millilitres of blood at each session.

Photo by Felizitas Steindl / Vetmeduni Vienna

Photo by Felizitas Steindl / Vetmeduni Vienna

Animal blood, as well as human blood, is divided into various groups based on different surface proteins found on the red blood cells. More than twelve different blood type systems have been described for dogs, although in practice dogs are only tested for DEA 1.1 positive or DEA 1.1 negative.

Dogs can be registered as blood donors at the Clinical Unit of Internal Medicine Small Animals of the Vetmeduni Vienna. The donors receive a donor card and undergo a thorough examination before each donation. This mandatory health check includes a complete blood count, a test for blood parasites, and a check-up for viral infections.

“Donating blood does not harm the animals. The donated amount can be quickly regenerated by the animal’s organism,” says  specialist for small animal internal medicine and blood bank coordinator Nicole Luckschander-Zeller. “We pay special attention to making sure that donor animals feel good during donation. That’s why, after every donation, we give the animals a little snack.”

Dog blood is not only used as a whole. Individual blood components, such as plasma or erythrocyte concentrates, are stored and used when needed.

Source:  Vetmeduni Vienna media release

 

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