Due to the lack of availability of feline blood products and the challenges of finding suitable feline donors quickly, we recognise that the transfusion of canine blood may be considered in emergency cases to immediately increase oxygen carrying capacity in critically ill cats.
A recent paper reports that the transfusion of canine red cells to felines is effective in increasing PCV, although the benefit is short lived, with the transfused cells being cleared from the circulation in 4-7 days (Le Gal et al, 2020).
No severe transfusion reactions have been reported to date. However, naturally occurring antibodies to canine red cell antigens do exist in some cats and therefore there is a theoretical risk of a severe transfusion reaction occurring even on the first transfusion.
In the aforementioned Le Gal et al (2020) study, the majority of cats received DEA 1 positive packed red blood cells and Deschamps et al (2022) suggest that any canine donor can be used even if the blood type is unknown.
Second xenotransfusions have proven fatal and are contraindicated. If a subsequent transfusion is considered necessary, a type and cross match compatible feline donor will be required. Please reference our guide on feline blood collection.
For non-emergency cases and for cats with chronic, non-regenerative anaemia, feline red cells or whole blood is preferred. Feline erythrocytes are reported to last 30 days if the transfusion is blood type and cross match compatible.
More information on the practice of Xenotransfuions of canine blood to feline donors can be found in this open access article: Xenotransfusion of Blood from Dog to Cat: Should Canine Blood Be Our First Choice for Feline Transfusion in Emergency Situation?
Pet Blood Bank is aware that each patient is an individual and will have individual requirements and needs that must be taken into consideration to support them through the illness they are facing. Therefore, a veterinary surgeon must use their clinical knowledge and is ultimately responsible for each patient under their care.
Deschamps, J.Y., Abboud, N. and Roux. F. A. (2022) ‘Xenotransfusion of Blood from Dog to Cat: Should Canine Blood Be Our First Choice for Feline Transfusion in Emergency Situations?’, Veterinary Sciences, Vol. 9, (3), 106
Le Gal, A., Thomas, E.K. and Humm, K.R. (2020) ‘Xenotransfusion of canine blood to cats: A review of 49 cases and their outcome’, Journal of Small Animal Practice, Vol. 61, pp. 156 – 162