Cat and Dog Blood Types

Suddenly your pet falls ill and your vet needs to do a blood transfusion.  Will your veterinarian have the right blood on hand for the critical state that your dog or cat is in?  After all, when it comes to a time where blood needs to be given, we are talking life and death here, aren't we?  Dr Larry from Bruma Lake Veterinary Clinic explains how the different blood types work and how the vets use them to save your furchild's life.

Cat Blood Types Explained

Cats have 3 basic blood types:

  • Type A,
  • B and
  • AB which is extremely rare.

As in humans, the blood group antigens for cats are determined by carbohydrates on erythrocycte membranes. Cats also share another characteristic with humans in that their blood contains naturally occurring antibodies. If a cat of one blood type receives blood from a cat from another type this could have serious and even fatal consequence.

Domestic Shorthair cat

This does not usually occur as 95% of Domestic shorthairs are type A, so the chances of incompatibility are slim.

An important note here - the frequency of blood types does vary based on the breed and geographic location in the world and within a country.  It is therefore preferable to type the donor and the recipient together, before a blood transfusion takes place.   Although there is a small chance of a reaction taking place, this reaction is potentially life threatening. An additional concern is that further blood transfusions may be required.

Problems are much more likely to occur with some of the imported breeds: Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, British shorthair and Persian, which have a higher prevalence of individuals with the B blood group.  In these breeds it is crucial to match the donor to the recipient.

Type AB cats can receive either type of blood without a reaction but cannot be blood donors for the other types.

Dog Blood Types Explained

Dog blood groups are determined by the different antigens that are present (or absent) from the surface of the red blood cells.

Although more than a dozen groups have been described, most dogs fall into one of eight Dog Erythrocyte Antigen (DEA) blood types as recognized by international standards to include:

  1. DEA 1.1
  2. DEA 1.2
  3. DEA 3
  4. DEA 4
  5. DEA 5
  6. DEA 6
  7. DEA 7
  8. DEA 8

40-45 % of all dogs have a universal canine blood type.

60% of Greyhounds have a universal blood type. Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Pit Bulls are often universal donors as well.

Only dogs with the universal dog blood type (DEA 1.1 negative) can be blood donors.

Most dogs can receive the universal dog blood type, regardless of their own blood type. Tests are available to ensure a good "cross match" between your dog and the blood donor.

If there is an emergency and universal blood is not available your dog may receive a transfusion from any available dog that is healthy and large enough. The reason for this is that dog blood does not contain naturally occurring antibodies.

After the the first blood has been transfused, however, antibodies are produced by the recipient's immune system.  Therefore it is vital that the next transfusion will require a very accurate crossmatch is achieved with the next donor.

Dr Larry
Proud Donor Cat Blood Types

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