In a time of crisis, many people consider giving blood as a means to help victims of war, natural disasters or even terrorist attack. But when tragedy occurs, what happens when your pets need blood? How do veterinarians cope with an immediate need for these vital fluids?
Fortunately, animal blood banks exist and can help insure that your pet gets the right blood product and the right type of blood for any injury or illness. Historically, most veterinarians used their own pets as a reservoir for emergencies, but too often, transfusion reactions occurred and many pets died.
Blood types are well known in humans and our pets are just as complex. Cats, as an example, have three main blood types (A, B, and AB) while dogs actually have more than a dozen different blood groups. Problems occur when pets of one blood type receive blood from a different blood type and often the resulting reaction can be catastrophic or even deadly.
Beyond typing the blood, animal blood banks can also help cross match samples of donor and recipient blood. This procedure further insures that no unplanned reactions happen when the patient receives the blood. Typing and cross matching is common in human hospitals and is just now becoming the standard for our pets as well.
Interested pet owners can talk with their veterinarians about animal blood drives happening in their local area. Often, blood collected locally is used to save pet lives across town or even across the country