|Pibbles to the Rescue|
Every day hundreds of animals need blood transfusions, but there are few national animal blood banks. With such a severe shortage of blood, many clinics depend on larger emergency hospitals when they need blood. Typically, when an animal donates blood, the animal is typed and checked for blood-borne infectious diseases. Similar to human blood types, there are five major canine blood types, and one is a universal donor, like our “O negative.” When veterinarians purchase blood from a bank, they get the universal blood type, which can be used once on almost any animal without much chance of side effects or adverse reactions. However, if an animal needs multiple transfusions, the chance of a reaction goes up considerably with each one.
Donated blood saves pets' lives. For the same reasons sick or injured people often need blood transfusions that replace blood loss due to traumatic injury or surgery. Transfusions also are used to treat animals whose blood systems are not functioning well. Often, these are pets with diseases that attack their immune systems or diseases that prevent their blood from clotting normally--such as happens when pets and people suffer heat stroke. Other common situations when blood products (blood or plasma) may be used are with critically ill patients with cancer, anemia, clotting problems, internal parasites, heat stroke, or traumatic blood loss (auto accident, bite wounds)