Pets that have lost a significant amount of blood should be taken to the emergency department immediately. Other signs that your animal needs professional help include:

  • Trauma to the body
  • Damage to organ
  • Broken bones
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cold to the touch
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

If your pet needs a blood transfusion, chances are they have also lost substantial interstitial fluid and iron. First and foremost, the bleeding needs to be stopped. Then, they will need to be stabilized with an IV and given iron supplements. The blood transfusion will stimulate organ function, so the body can heal itself.

BrightCare Animal Emergency is dedicated to providing exceptional treatment for animals throughout Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, and Rancho Santa Margarita. Our 24 hour emergency animal hospital is equipped with the latest technology and tools to diagnose and care for animals. We understand how scary pet emergencies can be, so our veterinarians try their best to accommodating with every patient. If you have questions or an animal in need, give us a call at 949-716-9270 and we’ll be happy to help.

What is a blood transfusion?

A blood transfusion is the process of giving one patient blood from another. Blood transfusions are typically performed when the patient has suffered severe blood loss. Situations that could necessitate blood transfusions include trauma, ruptured blood vessels, surgery, anemia, and more.

Like humans, animals need the red blood cells in blood transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body to keep it functional. These cells also bring carbon dioxide and other waste to the lungs, kidneys, and digestive system to be expelled from the body. White blood cells, which only comprise of 1% of blood, are responsible for defending the body from foreign invaders and diseases. Prolonged blood loss may lead to a reduction of iron in the body, so the bone marrow is unable to replace lost blood cells with new ones.

To ensure veterinary centers are equipped with all the tools they need to treat animals in need, there are multiple animal blood banks throughout the country that provide blood for vets to keep on hand in case of emergencies. Qualified dogs and cats can also donate blood to hospitals if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Blood Transfusions for Cats

Blood types are the classification of blood by the presence or absence of specific antigens, which are substances that stimulate an immune response from the body. Cats have 3 blood types: A, B, and AB. There is no universal donor for cats, so they always need to be tested and matched for their blood type before a transfusion. If the blood types don’t match, the operation could result in a fatal reaction because the immune system could attack the transfused blood.

Luckily, it’s easy to determine a cat’s blood type with a card test, immunochromatography test, blood test, or cheek swab. These diagnostics are essential to the success of a blood transfusion because feline blood may have antibodies that will reject blood that doesn’t match.

Blood Transfusions for Dogs

Dogs are a little different. They have seven recognized blood types and 5 less common ones, which include DEA 1, DEA 1.2, DEA 1.3, DEA 3, DEA 4, DEA 5, and DEA 7. 98% of dogs, however, have DEA 4 alone and this is also considered a universal donor blood. Unlike humans and cats, dogs will rarely suffer from a transfusion reaction from their first transfusion even if the donor’s blood type is different because antibodies have not yet formed. Any subsequent transfusions with a different blood type, on the other hand, will result in a reaction because the patient’s immune system will be sensitized to that canine blood type. That’s why it’s important to test and match a dog’s blood type if it’s the second transfusion.