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Blood donation saves millions of lives. But what many people do not know is that pets can also donate blood. The practice is nevertheless very rare, because much more complicated.

Emergency relief, surgical interventions, blood diseases … the need for human blood is daily. Knowing that there is currently no treatment or synthetic drug capable of imitating it, blood donation remains the best way to treat those who need it. But did you know that our pets (dogs, in particular) could also donate blood? If the answer is negative, know that you are not alone.

British veterinarians have recently asked the question of pet owners who visited a clinic during a period of 10 days. The goal was to test their knowledge of animal blood donation, but also to know if in case of need, they would not hesitate to offer the blood of their animal. The details of the study were published in the journal Vet Record.

It emerged that of the 158 owners who answered the questionnaire, 70% said they did not know that dogs or cats could actually donate blood. In contrast, 90% of homeowners said they would donate their pet’s blood if needed.

Why give the blood of his animal?

Like us, dogs and cats sometimes need emergency transfusions. For dogs, they are usually necessary in cases of haemorrhage, poisoning by rat poisoning or leukemia. Ideally, a dog can give between two and four times a year until the age of eight. They can also be useful in cats with hemolytic anemia or hepatitis. The practice remains however much more complicated.

In dogs, there is indeed no risk of incompatibility during the first transfusion. Only during the second. If urgently needed, a veterinarian can therefore perform a safe blood transfusion for the animal concerned, regardless of blood type. On the other hand, the problem of cats is that the blood groups must necessarily be compatible from the first transfusion. Otherwise, it is assured death. Since there is no fast way to know the feline’s blood type, blood transfusions are very rarely performed in cats.

This does not necessarily mean that they are frequently used in dogs. One of the main obstacles to this practice remains the very short conservation time of the samples taken. For the moment, transfusions save each year a few dozen animals.