Cats and dogs can give blood to save other animals in distress. This practice is safe for them and can save lives. However, it is still not widespread in France.
Blood donation in animals: why is it crucial?
Like humans, dogs and cats may require a blood transfusion in the event of a serious injury, lack of red blood cells or anaemia. Dogs with piroplasmosis, a tick-borne disease, may also need a transfusion.
Blood bags have a limited shelf life of 30 days, which makes stock management complex. It is therefore preferable to call on an animal donor quickly rather than keeping large quantities of blood in reserve.
Which animals can be donors?
Although both dogs and cats can be donors, it is generally preferable to give blood to dogs. They are larger and more robust and can handle blood donation better. Cats, on the other hand, can donate less frequently and in smaller quantities. They are also often more stressed during this procedure, which can make the experience unpleasant for them.
To be noted Blood from dogs can be transfused to other dogs or cats, but the transfusion of canine blood to a cat can only be done once and only in an absolute emergency.
What are the conditions for an animal to give blood in France?
To be eligible for blood donation, a pet must meet certain criteria. It must be between 2 and 8 years old and weigh at least 30 kg for dogs and 4 kg for cats. The animal must also undergo a blood test to check its health and be up to date on its vaccinations and deworming.
Although expensive and not systematic, the veterinarian can check the compatibility between donor and recipient before blood collection.
Did you know that? There are eight blood types in dogs and three in cats.
How does the blood collection process work?
The process of donating blood for pets requires some organisation. It is important to make an appointment in advance, as animals cannot wait in line. Preliminary tests are also necessary. Once the animal is deemed fit to donate, blood is drawn from the jugular vein or a vein in a forelimb for 20-30 minutes.