Precautions To Take While Doing Blood Transfusion In Dogs


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Is your dog, usually quite active, suddenly not interested in exercise or play? Is he visibly tired all the time? It could be a result of anemia which results in a reduced number of red blood cells in the bloodstream. Anemia can be identified by a simple lab test as directed by the veterinarian. Mild cases are often easier to manage and treat. But if there is severe blood loss or acute hemolysis due to external or internal injuries or auto-immune diseases, the vet might recommend blood transfusion for the anemic dog.The process of transfusion for canines is similar to that for humans. Blood or plasma collected from healthy dogs is transferred to the patient hypodermically. Often done in critical conditions, blood transfusion is a process that involves many safety measures to ensure the ailing dogโ€™s safety and complete recovery.

General precautions

Vets take multiple precautionary steps to ensure successful blood transfusion. Before performing the blood transfusion, the blood of the recipient will be cross-matched with blood of donor for compatibility. It is preferred that both the dogs are of the same species. In cases where a plasma transfusion is done, a coagulation test will be performed the anemic dog before the transfusion. Blood of the donor is also tested to prevent transfer any infections from the donor to patient.Once the cross-matched blood is made available, an intra venous (IV) tube is connected to the ailing canine to start transfusion. The time taken for blood transfusion to complete varies depending on the level of anemia. If the patient requires blood urgently, blood transfusion can be done within an hour.But generally in the case of mild anemia, it can take up to four hours. Anesthesia is not required to perform blood transfusion. Fever and other allergic reactions occur only in rare cases.

Specific precautions

Cross-matching the blood and double checking the donor blood bag labels before transfusion minimizes the general risks. But to avoid certain specific health hazards, corresponding preventive measures are taken.

  • Hemolytic reactions: Hemolytic reactions are rare and mostly caused due to incompatible blood, or in case of multiple transfusions, intra-donor incompatibility. Since most adverse reactions will be visible within first 15 minutes of transfusion, the recipient is monitored closely at first and if the patient is responding well, then further monitoring will be done at scheduled intervals.
  • Hypothermia: Hypothermia is most often caused due to transfusing chilled blood too rapidly. Hypothermia is prevented by using a warming device on the blood bag.
  • Circulatory overload: To avoid this, blood is transfused slowly and divided amounts of blood are administered. An infusion pump may also be used to regulate the flow rate.
  • Electrolyte disturbance: Electrolyte disturbance occurs in patients with kidney ailments and this is prevented by using saline washed red blood cells or fresh whole blood.
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