Cats & Dogs Need Blood, Just Like We Do

By Nicole Edwards, RVT Blood Bank Coordinator, Veterinary Specialty Hospital.

Did you know your pets can donate blood just like you? Animals can sustain trauma and can have acquired or hereditary bleed disorders. Just like us, both dogs and cats have different blood types.

Dog Blood Types

There are about 11 detectible canine blood types with DEA 4 being the universal canine blood type. All blood types besides DEA 1.1 require specialized testing to detect. Dogs that do not carry the antigen are referred to as DEA 1.1 Negative and are loosely referred to as universal blood donors. Donated blood of this type can be transfused to both DEA 1.1 Negative and Positive dogs. DEA 1.1 Negative dogs can only receive DEA 1.1 Negative blood products.

Dogs that do carry the antigen are referred to as DEA 1.1 Positive and are loosely considered universal recipients. They can receive and can be transfused to both DEA 1.1 Negative and Positive blood products.

Cat Blood Types

There are 3 feline blood types; A, B and AB. Cats differ from dogs as they do have naturally occurring antibodies to other blood groups. Therefore, there is no universal feline blood type and cats must receive blood products from only their own blood type.

Feline blood type A is the most common blood type in cats. Feline blood type B is much less common and is not usually stocked in most hospitals. Feline blood type AB is very rare. Type AB cats can receive other blood types with proper cross-matching and monitoring, and might require pretreatment for anaphylaxis. Ideally, they should receive type AB products, however, as AB products are not as readily available, this is not often an option. Since type B is much less common than type A, type AB cats usually receive type A blood products.

Veterinary Specialty Hospital’s Blood Bank fully functions as an in-house donation center and component processing laboratory to provide a multitude of components to our dog and cat patients. These include fresh and stored whole blood, packed red cells, fresh frozen and frozen plasma, cryo-poor plasma, cryoprecipitate, platelet rich plasma and platelet concentrate.

The Hospital is always looking for dog and cat blood donors to join their Blood Donor Program. Both dogs and cats need to be from 1 to 7 years old, in overall good health, have a friendly temperament and current with vaccines. Dogs must weigh over 55 pounds and receive monthly flea/tick/heartworm prevention. Cats must weigh over 10 pounds, be indoors only and receive monthly flea prevention. Enrolled donors receive courtesy yearly comprehensive lab work and compensation at each donation.

If you are interested and think your pet might be a potential blood donor, please contact Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego at (858) 875-7500 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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