Blood Groups

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The number of blood groups varies between the domestic species and are determined by the presence of antigenic components on the surface of the red blood cells. Cattle have 2 blood groups (B and J) and the most complex blood group systems while cats have 3 blood groups and are quite simple. Dogs have 8 blood groups, horses have 3, A, C and Q and sheep have 2 groups B and R.

Normally an animal will not have antibodies against antigens present on the surface of its own red blood cells or against blood group antigens of that species unless they have been produced following pregnancy, a previous transfusion or a vaccine reaction. However this is not the case for cats, who have naturally occurring alloantibodies.

In order to achieve a safe blood transfusion blood typing and sometimes crossmatching of the donor and recipient patient is required. Transfusion of the incorrect blood type can lead to a haemolytic transfusion reaction which can be fatal; all patients undergoing a transfusion should be monitored closely during the entire time of the transfusion.

Initial collection of blood gives fresh whole blood. Generally this is the product most frequently used however different blood products are available and are frequently used in referral practices. Whole blood can be stored or separated into packed red blood cells, plasma, or platelet rich plasma concentrates. Giving blood components over whole blood is advantageous as it reduces the number of transfusion reactions and also allows specific replacement therapy.

See also: Indications for Blood Transfusions
Administering a Blood Transfusion
Blood Groups - Dog
Blood Groups - Cat
Blood Products