According to the Director of Hemovet Petcare, Simone Goncalves Rodrigues Gomes, this initiative is crucial in saving the lives of dogs and cats, particularly in main diseases in which blood transfusions are required: “Severe anaemia caused by transmitted diseases by ticks, mainly ehrlichiosis and babesiosis, in the case of dogs.“
In cats, severe anaemia can occur in cases of mycoplasmosis, transmitted by fleas and viral diseases such as feline viral leukaemia. Accidents that cause bleeding, such as being run over, fights with other dogs, snake bites, surgical procedures such as tumours and correction of extensive fractures. Anaemia results from problems in organs such as the kidney and liver failing, known as renal and hepatic failure respectively.
However, to meet the donation requirements, which can be made every three months, it is necessary that the animal is in good health and can benefit the recipient of the donation.
“Dogs must have a minimum weight of 27 kilograms, aged between one and eight years old, have a docile temperament, updated vaccination and deworming, tick and flea control. Cats must have a minimum weight of 4 kilograms, aged between one and six years, and also have a docile temperament, up-to-date vaccination and deworming, and flea and tick control,” Simone explains.
It is noteworthy that, before the donation, tests are mandatory to detect diseases that may be present without symptoms. Among these tests, hemogram, detects ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, heartworm, lyme, leishmaniasis, brucellosis, renal function, mycoplasmosis, feline leukaemia and feline immunodeficiency.
“Donating blood is a gesture of love and saves lives. Transfusions are essential in the treatment of animals,” says Professor and Manager of Sao Judas Veterinary Hospital, Simone Rodrigues Ambrosio, in recalling that, in some veterinary blood centres such as Hemovet Petcare, there is the possibility of scheduling a donation.
Although it is not a difficult act to perform, Simone Goncalves also emphasises it is necessary to take several precautions before starting the procedure, such as, ‘perform typing and compatibility tests before transfusions of packed red blood cells and whole blood; previously evaluate the vital parameters of the animal and monitor them throughout the procedure (interrupt the infusion in the event of hyperthermia, tachycardia, tachypnea and/or respiratory distress, urticaria and angioedema). Then transfuse the indicated blood component to avoid circulatory overload, preventing the appearance of transfusion reactions.’
Still battling the Covid-19 pandemic, which demands for social distancing, countless blood banks, which were already struggling, saw their stocks run out.
“If before the donation of blood from dogs and cats was already difficult enough, in recent months the situation has become even more complicated. Some tutors opted for home collection and others preferred to cancel it,” explains Katia Garcia, Veterinary Doctor and Director of the Veterinary Hemotherapy Centre (CHVET), adding that the current number of donors is still far below what is necessary to cover the demand.
Therefore, for Katia, who emphasises that a bag of donated blood is divided into blood components and can be used in up to four animals, discussing blood donation with guardians is essential.
“Many of them are unaware of the importance and others fear that the procedure poses some risk to the pet. The entire blood donation procedure is performed by the veterinarian, it is safe, painless and fast, and takes about ten minutes. In addition to saving lives, the donor performs essential health examinations.”
Finally, Simone Goncalves reiterates there is no ‘synthetic’ blood or a substitute, so “we need everyone’s solidarity so that our mission can continue to save many lives. Each donor will make a difference in the life for a family of pets.”