Plasma Transfusion in Dogs

A dog plasma transfusion is an emergency procedure used to treat clotting diseases. A plasma transfusion is different from a whole blood transfusion. If your dog receives a plasma transfusion, he'll be receiving only the blood plasma, the liquid part of the blood in which blood cells are suspended. Most vets don't give whole blood transfusions except in cases of emergency; instead, they give your dog only the parts of the blood that he most needs, such as plasma, red blood cells or platelets.

Choosing a Canine Transfusion Donor

Finding canine plasma and whole blood donors can be difficult. There aren't many blood banks for dogs, and dogs have a number of different blood types, so finding a match isn't easy. Donor dogs should be between one and six years of age and weight no less than 50 pounds; they should be healthy and free of any blood borne diseases. Donor dogs should be even tempered, obedient and relaxed enough to remain relatively still for several minutes while a blood donation is removed.

Typing Dog Blood

There are 11 different canine blood types, including one universal donor type. If your dog needs a plasma transfusion or any other type of blood transfusion, your vet will match your dog's blood type to the donor dog's blood type. He'll also cross match the antibodies in your dog's blood to those in the donor dog's blood, to make sure your dog doesn't suffer an allergic reaction.

Storing and Using Canine Blood Plasma

Canine blood plasma can be stored for much longer than whole canine blood or canine blood cells. Canine blood plasma is separated from the rest of the blood for long term storage. It's frozen within six hours of being separated from the blood cells, and can be used for up to one year. Canine whole blood and canine blood cells, by contrast, are kept refrigerated after donation and must be used within a few weeks.

Canine blood plasma is used to treat diseases in which your dog's blood doesn't clot properly, since it contains all of the clotting agents present in canine blood. Canine blood plasma transfusions are used to treat hypoproteinemia, a disorder in which blood protein levels are abnormally low, and hypovolemia, a disorder in which your dog suffers from reduced blood volume.

The Transfusion Procedure

Canine plasma transfusions are administered intravenously. Blood is filtered and administered slowly to ensure a favorable reaction. The more transfusions your dog receives, the more sensitive he'll become to different blood types, and the more carefully the donor blood will need to be typed and cross matched.

Risks of Canine Plasma Transfusion

Canine blood plasma transfusions, like all types of dog blood transfusions, carry a number of risks. Dogs who receive frequent blood transfusions may succumb to acute hemolysis, a disorder in the red blood cells begin to disintegrate. Hypervolemia, hypercalcemia, infection, sepsis and contamination of the blood can also occur, but are usually the result of malpractice. Your vet should monitor your dog for signs of infection following any transfusion.