Critical Care

Blood transfusions

Transfusions are commonly indicated for a variety of disease processes. VSH stocks packed red blood cells and fresh frozen plasma for dogs and cats. Packed red blood cells are a concentrated solution of red blood cells used to treat acute and chronic anemias and blood loss. Plasma is typically used to correct some types of bleeding disorders and occasionally to help support patients with low blood protein (albumin).

Dogs have multiple blood groups, but fortunately they are not born with pre-formed antibodies against other blood groups. This means that dogs will rarely have an acute transfusion reaction with their first transfusion even if not cross matched or typed.

Cats have three major blood types: A, B, AB. Greater than 90% of cats are Type A. Type B is considered uncommon and type AB is very rare. Unlike dogs, most cats have naturally occurring antibodies against other blood groups. Therefore they must be blood typed, and in some cases crossmatched, prior to receiving a transfusion. Administration of an incompatible blood type may cause a severe, and possibly fatal, transfusion reaction. VSH only stocks type A blood but can obtain type B blood from a blood bank within 24-72 hours when needed.

Common conditions where a packed red blood cell transfusion may be indicated:

  • Severe hemorrhage secondary to trauma, such as dog fight injuries and vehicular trauma
  • Internal hemorrhage secondary to ruptured tumors
  • Hemorrhage due to bleeding disorders, such as anticoagulant rodenticide toxicity
  • Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia
  • Bone marrow disease
  • Severe gastrointestinal bleeding, common with ulcers or immune-mediated disease

Common conditions where a fresh frozen plasma transfusion may be indicated:

  • Anticoagulant rodenticide toxicity
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)
  • Liver failure resulting in a bleeding disorder
  • Severe hypoalbuminemia

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