Canine blood donation picking up in Nagaland
DIMAPUR — Not many in Nagaland, including pet owners might be aware that dogs, like humans, can also donate blood to save the lives of other dogs.
While canine blood donation has been operating for many years in other parts of the country, it was introduced in Nagaland only about four-five years ago.
Dr. Michael Imti Imchen, Veterinary Assistant Surgeon, told Eastern Mirror that canine blood donation has gained momentum in Nagaland, though not all veterinary clinics may have blood transfusion facility.
Sharing about the process of dog blood donation, Dr. Imchen said that like humans, dogs also have their own blood groups called Dog Erythrocyte Antigen (DEA) and the seven common blood groups are DEA 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3, 4, 5 and 7.
For blood transfusion, the blood group of the donor and the receiver should match, he said, adding dogs also have –ve and +ve blood groups, where the –ve can donate to both groups and the +ve can only donate to +ve group.
Regarding the risk of receiving blood from a donor, he said that like humans, dogs can also develop reactions and go into a state of shock if the blood group does not match.
While tests are normally done before blood transfusion, he said some pet owners of the recipient forgo the procedure because of the cost involved.
Random blood transfusion is also carried out in emergency cases, if there is not enough time to undergo test, said the veterinarian.
On the amount of blood a dog can donate, he said that it depends on the body weight, while informing that the haemoglobin level of the donor needs to be HP 12.5 g/dl.
The doctor also shared that a donor has to be between one and six years, while the body weight may vary from breed to breed; the donor should be healthy and fit and not under treatment.
Dogs suffering from blood infections like, babisiosis, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis are the most common of blood transfusion cases. And if the owner delays treatment, the dog’s haemoglobin level can go down drastically, which may result in death.
A healthy dog can donate blood up to five-six times annually, he said, adding that he performed about 15 blood transfusions in his clinic last year.
Sharing about the benefits of blood donation, the veterinarian said that it boosts the system of a dog because, like human, red blood cells are produced every second and stored in the spleen. And when blood is used, the stored blood is automatically activated and goes into the system, renewing the system, he explained.
Like human blood, dog blood can also be stored in a blood bank, but since there is no blood bank for animals, the veterinarians go for immediate transfusion.
Imchen advised dog owners to be responsible by giving regular vaccine and deworm their pets, as well as take annual blood test. He also urged the pet owners to ensure that their pets do not have ticks, as a single bite from a tick can infect the pets and lead to blood infection.
From pet owners
Talisoa Lemtur, who currently has seven pet dogs, shared that his pets donate blood whenever he is informed of another dog requiring blood.
One of his pets, a Labrador named Luffy was the most recent one to donate blood about two months ago.
Maintaining that he has not faced any problem with any of his pets after donating blood, Lemtur said he provides them healthy diet, takes them for regular vaccination and ensures that they are fit before donating blood.
Another pet owner, who has two dogs named Mutley (local breed) and Luna (a Dalmatian), shared that he came to know about dog’s blood donation only last year from a veterinary doctor, though he has been owning dogs for several years.
Since then, Mutley, weighing 38 kg, has been donating blood almost every month. Luna (female) also donates blood sometimes, he said.