What blood type is your pet?

Most people are familiar with the concept that there are four principal blood groups in humans. But did you know that animals also have blood groups?

In people there are four principal blood groups classified as either type: A, B, AB or O. There are in fact many other blood groupings in humans but these four are the ones that are most medically relevant and determine which type of blood you can safely receive in a transfusion without suffering an adverse reaction. The type is determined by the presence of proteins or other chemicals on the surface of the red blood cell, called antigens. Animals also have blood groups and whilst the above groups may be present in some primates, dogs and cats are quite different.

Dogs are typed according to their dog erythrocyte antigen (DEA) and can be either DEA 1.1, 1.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8. Cats on the other hand can be typed as A, B or AB. In dogs in Australia, DEA 1.1 negative blood is considered the universal donor, which means it can be transfused into any dog without first cross matching the donor and recipient’s blood. However once a dog has received an initial transfusion, a cross match of blood needs to be performed prior to any subsequent transfusion, as the body may have produced antibodies that will adversely interact with any further transfused blood.

Most cats in Australia are type A, followed by type B with type AB being very uncommon. Blood typing or cross-matching is necessary before any transfusion is carried out in cats because of the potential for adverse reactions. For instance type A blood given to a type B cat can cause a rapid and potentially fatal reaction. Cats that are type AB are universal recipients and can receive blood from either blood type.

Lets hope that you never have the cause to need to know what blood type your pet is. But if by chance you do, you can rest assured that the staff at the AEC are well versed in the blood groups for dogs and cats and will take every precaution to minimise any risks associated with a blood transfusion.

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