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Provision of blood supplies for use in dogs and cats

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Ratification Date: 01 Aug 2010

Policy

Blood or blood product, collected humanely from donor animals, can be beneficial to the recipient animals, without compromising the welfare of the donors.

Animals should not be kept solely as blood donors because this may compromise their socialisation and care.

The establishment of registered blood banks that collect from practices that ensure the welfare of the animals involved and to service veterinary requirements for animal blood products is supported.

Background

This policy seeks to ensure that a reliable supply of fresh blood and blood products is available for emergency veterinary treatments and that these products are collected ethically and humanely. In many circumstances during the treatment of animals, blood transfusion can be essential because other forms of drug or fluid therapy are not sufficient.

Currently, blood is usually collected from client-or staff-owned pets in veterinary clinics with the consent of the owner. Blood products may also be supplied from registered blood banks, where dedicated donors are housed, or may be client-owned animals that donate blood a regular schedule. Some blood products, such as plasma, are available commercially.

Collecting blood from animals, including cats or dogs, provided that it is done in an appropriately humane manner and is appropriately monitored, is not detrimental to the donor. For cats, it is critical that the donor and recipient blood types are known because transfusion of incompatible blood types may be fatal. In dogs cross-matching should be performed whenever possible.

Guidelines

The following guidelines should be observed for the collection of blood from dogs and cats.

Blood can be collected from donor animals on a regular schedule, or just prior to euthanasia. The consent of the owner or person in charge of the animal must be provided before blood collection.

If the owners of an animal, or carers in a scientific institution, instruct that it is to be euthanased, the animal should be anaesthetised before blood collection and should not be revived.

Blood may be collected without sedation from a trained animal, but the procedure should be conducted by a registered veterinarian or under veterinary supervision. Sedation or anaesthesia is acceptable if it reduces stress to the donor animal or is required for the animal’s welfare.

Animal hospitals that have in-house donors should know the blood types of the animals and know and be proficient in cross-matching procedures.

Animals used for blood collection should be clinically healthy and, as far as can be reasonably determined, free from blood-borne transmissible diseases.

Where animals are maintained as blood donors, the frequency and volume of blood collection should be recorded and monitored by a registered veterinary surgeon to avoid collecting too much blood from an animal and causing untoward physiological changes. The haematocrit of the donor should be checked before blood collection to ensure the donor is not anaemic. The animal should be monitored during collection, and until fully recovered if anaesthetised.

Intravenous fluid support may be necessary after blood collection.

The health and welfare and clinical records of animals held for multiple donations should be monitored and maintained in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes1 and the principles in the Policy on the Care of Dogs Used for Scientific Purposes2.

Date of ratification by AVA Board August 2010

  1. National Health and Medical Research Council. The Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes. 7th edn. NHMRC in conjunction with CSIRO, the Australian Research Council and the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, 2004. Available at: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/ea28