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Blood Transfusions For Pets

Vet Talks 2 min read
Black and grey scruffy dog laying down on an examination with an IV

If your pet is going through serious health challenges, a blood transfusion may be required. Some pet parents may not realize that blood transfusions and blood donations are not just an option for humans but also for our furry friends. It is important for pet owners to understand what blood transfusions are and which situations they may be necessary for.

What are blood transfusions and how do they work?

Blood transfusion is the process of transferring blood products into one’s circulation intravenously.

A blood transfusion is the process of transferring blood products into one’s circulation intravenously. Transfusions are used for various medical conditions to replace lost components of the blood. After being collected from the donor, the blood can be immediately transfused into the recipient’s pet, or it can be fractionated into blood components. However, the safe way to use the blood components requires knowledge of blood types and also the ways to minimize the risk of transfusion reactions, including compatibility testing and screening of the healthy of the donor’s pet.

Why would a pet need a blood transfusion?

Transfusion therapy is indicated for pets with different health conditions, including anemia, hemorrhage (excessive bleeding), coagulopathy (inability for the body to naturally clot blood loss), and hypoproteinemia (protein deficiency).

To decide if your furbaby will need a blood transfusion, their medical condition and laboratory tests need to be taken into consideration. For example, red blood cell transfusion, which is the most common, happens when the pet no longer has enough hemoglobin (a component of red blood cells that carries oxygen). As a result, the body is unable to carry the oxygen necessary to the body to work properly. In theory, almost all dogs with red blood cell concentration (hematocrit) less than 10%, will need a transfusion.

Tabby cat laying on a fuzzy, grey blanket while receiving a blood transfusion.

Should a pet stop supplements before/after blood transfusions?

It is important to talk with your vet about the supplements that your little one is taking. Some supplements such as Turmeric can prevent the formation of clots, also some supplements such as Milk Thistle are not recommended if your little one has anemia.

Are there any supplements that are helpful for pets that require a blood transfusion?

Some supplements such as Multi Essentials, Petomega 3, and Yucca can be very helpful. If the anemia is caused by worms, Inulin-PK also can be very helpful. However, it is always important to talk with a veterinarian to make sure that you are giving supplements that are suitable for your pet’s conditions.

If you ever have more questions about supplement support for your pet, please reach out to us! You can start asking your questions now by using the button below.

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda completed her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine in 2010 and graduate studies in veterinary pathology (MVSc. 2012 and PhD 2016) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Dr. Nascimento will be hosting her own blog series and sharing her knowledge with our extended NHV family.

Published: December 17, 2021

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