Tag Archives: blood transfusion

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


Dogs and history: blood transfusions

A little bit of history in this post.  Did you know that the dog had a key role in the development of blood transfusion technology in humans?

Unfortunately, this is a story of animal experimentation.

blood tranfusion bag

In the early 1600s, an English physician named William Harvey explored the circulatory system and declared that ‘blood must continuously circulate.’  For the next 50 years, more work was done to understand the circulatory system.  Dogs were unfortunately chosen for animal experimentation and they were injected intravenously with a range of fluids including opium, wine and ale.

In 1665, English physician Richard Lower drained the blood out of a dog almost to the point where it had no blood volume left and was on the verge of death.  He then took a larger dog and replaced the blood supply.  (Poor dogs)

If you are really interested in the topic of human blood donation, this Science Show video on YouTube explains the whole history of human blood donation…