We never see dogs lined up in front of blood donation centers so it makes sense to wonder whether dogs have specific blood types like humans do. This is something worthy of knowing about considering that dogs may at some point in their lives need a transfusion, and it’s sure interesting discovering whether there is such a thing as dogs donating blood and whether they must go through the same screening for blood-borne infectious diseases as people do. So today’s trivia question is:
Do dogs have blood types like humans do?
A Yes, dogs have blood types too, but more than humans
B Yes, dogs have blood types too, but less than humans
C Yes, dogs have blood types too and the same exact types as humans
D No, dogs do not have blood types.
The correct answer is: drum roll please….
The correct answer is A, yes, dogs have blood types too and even more than humans do.
A Greater Variety
Even though all dog blood is made of the same elements, not all dog blood is the same. Dogs have different blood groups and types, and just as in humans, it’s important to know about a dog’s blood type.
Blood transfusions in dogs can be needed when a dog loses blood as from a car accident or other traumatic injury causing lots of blood loss, or from medical conditions that cause destruction of red blood cells. While in humans there are four major blood groups, that is A, B, AB and O, when it comes to dogs and delivering blood transfusions things are a tad bit different.
Dogs have about eight basic blood types, however, as many as 12 may exist, explains veterinarian Dr. Chris Bern.
A Different Structure
Dog blood falls under a different system compared to humans when it comes to blood groups. In humans, blood groups are based on inherited proteins that sit on the surface of red blood cells. These proteins differ between one person and another. Dogs do not have the same blood group proteins as humans do, but rather their groups are basically structured based on the dog erythrocyte antigen (DEA) system.
A dog’s DEA is always followed by a number, so for example, you may see DEA 1.1 positive, DEA 1.1 negative, DEA 1.2, DEA 3, DEA 4, DEA 5, DEA 7 and DEA8. According to veterinarian Linda M. Vap, DEA 1.1 and DEA 1.2 tend to occur in about 60% of dogs, DEA 4 occurs in up to 98% of dogs and dogs with this type alone are universal donors, while DEA 3 and 5 are found in lower proportions and DEA 7 is seen in 8 to 45 percent of dogs in the U.S. Little though seems to be known about DEA 6 and 8 and other possible antigens thought to exist.
About Dog Transfusions
As with human transfusions, dog blood donors need to screened for diseases and the antigens in the blood need to be known. In humans, transfusions are risky when the blood is not compatible as the body detects the blood as foreign and attacks it as if was a life threatening virus. This can cause life threatening complications. In dogs, though, in a first time transfusion the risks for complications are generally low; however, if a dog has had a transfusion before then there are higher risks of a reaction, explains board-certified veterinarian Dr. Joey. In this case, cross-matching, the process of determining whether a donor’s blood is compatible with the blood of the recipient, can help prevent severe allergic reactions to the donor dog’s blood.
Did you know? Greyhounds are often used a blood donors because they have special traits that makes them suitable for the task. On top of being docile and having large veins, their blood is particularly appealing. “Oxygen-carrying red blood cells can account for up to 47 percent of the blood of other dog species. In greyhounds, however, that number runs as high as 70 percent, which allows the species to replace lost blood quickly and “recuperate faster,”explains shelter veterinarian Leonard Vidrevich for an article for Sun Sentinel.
Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is sick, please see your vet for proper treatment.
- Hohenhaus AE. Importance of blood groups and blood group antibodies in companion animals. Transfus Med Rev 2004;18(2):117-126.
- DVM360, An update on blood typing, crossmatching, and doing no harm in transfusing dogs and cats, retrieved from the web on September 13th, 2016