The need to give whole blood is uncommon. In most patients, the disease condition will result in a need for either red cells or plasma. Using blood components saves time and helps every donation go further.
Choosing the right product for your case
If you are unsure which blood product you need, please refer to our blood component table at the bottom of this page. This provides an overview of the indications for use, as well as administration guidance for all our blood products.
We have decision making flow charts for our packed red cell and plasma products. These will help guide you in choosing the most suitable blood product for the patient.
We also have a blood transfusion calculator to help you calculate how many units of blood your patient will need. For further advice on managing and administering your transfusion, please visit the advice section of our website or use our vet advice service.
What are the benefits of using blood components over whole blood?
We can help more pets
Using components makes the best use of every unit of whole blood collected. Dividing up the whole blood unit into components means it can potentially help up to four other dogs. Even in cases where red cells and plasma are required, often there is a need for larger doses of one or the other.
You get the right amount
For a small dog, one unit of whole blood can be too much, resulting in waste. In a large dog, one unit can be too little so multiple units would need to be collected from various donors. Using components makes it easier for you to get the right amount of blood for your patient.
Decreased risk of transfusion reactions
Transfusing whole blood when only one component is required can lead to an increased risk of transfusion reaction. This is through exposure and subsequent sensitisation to other cellular products. Using components decreases this risk.
Blood collection can be challenging
If performed irregularly, blood collection can be challenging. It requires careful donor selection, adequate staff availability and training, as well as the correct, well maintained equipment. It also requires time. If multiple units of blood are needed for a patient, the logistics become even more challenging.
Whole blood is only needed for platelets
Fresh whole blood transfused from one patient to another within four hours of collection is the only source of platelets at this time in the UK. Only when platelet numbers are so low and are causing bleeding into a critical area (the CNS, cardiovascular or respiratory system) is fresh whole blood is recommended as a salvage procedure. One unit of whole blood contains a very small number of active platelets that are unfortunately very unlikely to make any difference to a severely thrombocytopaenic patient