Journal Scan: Can canine blood be safely given to cats?


Journal Scan: Can canine blood be safely given to cats?

Feb 01, 2014

What they did

In an emergency, can you turn to your canine blood stores in a cat that needs a transfusion? In this article, the authors review the literature on the practice of xenotransfusion—the transfusion of blood from another species—in veterinary medicine.

What they found

Historically, xenotransfusion has been documented in the veterinary literature since the 1960s and is still practiced in some countries including France, Italy, and Australia, according to the authors. From 1962 to present day, there are a total of four studies and one case report about the use of canine blood for transfusions given to cats (62 cats total). In most instances, the transfusions were well-tolerated, indicating that cats do not have naturally occurring antibodies against canine red blood cells.

Mild transfusion reactions included tachypnea and pyrexia as well as icterus in the week after the transfusion. Repeated transfusions administered > 7 days after the initial transfusion resulted in severe transfusion reactions (hemoglobinuria, anaphylaxis, death). In addition, the researchers found that canine red blood cells have a much shorter half-life (< 4 days) when given to feline patients.

Take-home message

Canine whole blood or packed red blood cells should not be used for feline transfusion as standard practice. Xenotransfusion may be considered in specific circumstances if a compatible feline blood or hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier solution is not available and if the cat has never had a xenotransfusion before. A frank discussion with the owners about the risks and benefits of such transfusion is imperative.

Bovens C, Gruffydd-Jones T. Xenotransfusion with canine blood in the feline species: review of the literature. J Feline Med Surg 2013;15(2):62-67.

Link to abstract: