Rat poison ingestion, cancer, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, acute hemorrhage; whatever the reason, Espanola Animal Hospital stocks whole blood and blood products for Northern Ontario pets. We operate Northern Ontario’s only canine blood bank and routinely care for patients receiving blood and/or plasma transfusions.
Dogs have two blood types, positive and negative. Negative blood types are considered “universal donors”, meaning any canine patient can receive their blood. That doesn’t mean we don’t accept positive donors! Wherever possible, we transfuse with type-specific blood products to help limit the risk of transfusion reactions.
Because of the demands placed on our blood bank, we are always looking for new canine blood donors. Our program consumes on average 1-10 units of whole blood per month, depending on the needs of the individual patient. The units of blood that we collect are never wasted. If they are not used for transfusion directly, they are processed into frozen plasma units and stored in the freezer. Frozen plasma is indispensable for patients suffering from coagulopathies, pancreatitis, oncotic pressure issues and other critical life-threatening diseases.
Our donors do need to meet a few requirements to ensure that their blood is safe to transfuse to another patient. These include:
- Between 1-10 years of age
- Weighing 30kg (66 lbs) or more
- Up to date on all core vaccinations
- Up to date on heartworm prevention
- Having a calm and easygoing demeanour
Adjunctive Treatment and Immunotherapy:
Many patients need blood transfusions because of an issue with their immune system. In these patients, the immune system attacks either the red blood cells or the platelets, which causes either severe anemia or uncontrollable bleeding. In either case, these are severe, life-threatening issues that carry a poor prognosis. These patients typically require several transfusions and immunosuppressant therapy to get them through this health crisis.
Espanola Animal Hospital was recently the fortunate recipient of a very generous donation of Human Immune Globulin (IVIG). IVIG is considered to be “liquid gold” for patients who are suffering from autoimmune disorders. It is very expensive and very difficult to obtain in veterinary medicine. We are the only facility in Northern Ontario able to administer this lifesaving product.
IVIG is a human blood product created from the serum of 1000-15,000 donors per batch. This product provides antibodies that the immune system cannot make for itself. It helps to modulate the immune response. Our hospital also employs the use of a special immunosuppressant drugs, supportive treatments for blood clotting and we have 24-hour ICU care for these patients