Did you know that dogs and cats have different blood types—just as people do? Currently, dogs have nine known blood groups and we’re finding more every day.  These blood types are labeled by the Dog Erythrocyte Antigen System (DEA) and are DEA 1.1, DEA 1.2, DEA 1.3, DEA 3, DEA 4, DEA 5, DEA 6, DEA 7 and DEA 8, each being either positive or negative. Most recently, the canine DAL blood group has been identified.

Cats, however, have only three blood types: Feline blood type A, B and AB. Recently, the feline Mik antigen has been identified, although its importance is not yet well understood. Currently, 99% of domestic cats in the U.S. have type A blood. Fifty percent of British shorthair cats have type B blood. Only a small percentage of Norwegian Forest Cats, Persians and a few other breeds have type AB blood.

Blood types are important for pet patients when they need a blood transfusion. For dogs, DEA 1.1 and 1.2 are considered to be the most important. As with people, a pet recipient is blood typed and appropriate blood products are administered. In cases where a blood type can’t be obtained, a “universal” DEA 1.1 negative transfusion would be given to the dog. If the pet has received a transfusion in the past, a cross-match test is required before additional transfusions are given to decrease the risk of transfusion reactions.

Similarly, in feline transfusion medicine it’s recommended to obtain a blood type and cross match before any transfusion is given.

When needed, a blood transfusion would be given in a veterinary specialty or emergency hospital setting. There are a wide variety of cases that might require transfusions, including trauma with bleeding, cancerous processes with blood loss into the abdomen, immune-mediated anemia, bleeding disorders, and rat poisoning toxicities to name a few.

Many different blood products are available to aid doctors in handling a wide variety of critical medical and surgical cases. These products include packed red blood cells, plasma and whole blood with each one indicated for the treatment of specific conditions.

We make sure to always have blood products available at Newtown Veterinary Specialists to assist our specialists and emergency doctors in their life-saving work. We also have an emergency blood donor program with dogs and cats available to be called in for donations.  All of our donors have been approved after passing a physical examination and blood screening tests.

With this story we’ve posted a photo of Denali, a five-year-old Dogue de Bordeaux. She’s a member of our emergency blood donor program and belongs to Dr. Christopher Potanas on our surgery team.

For more information please call us at 203-270-VETS (8387).