Published: 08 Jun 2020 | Last Updated: 08 Jun 2020 10:07:25

Research conducted by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) into the administration of canine blood to cats is being used as part of a brand-new webinar series by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA).

cat recovering from operation at QMHA
Burberry came to the QMHA after being hit by a car. He had fractured his leg and was very anaemic

The webinar, which will be aired in June, will provide vets and vet nurses with an opportunity to listen to a discussion with the two lead researchers about the key findings of their study and how these findings may impact clinical practice. This RVC study is one of the two first papers to be discussed and peers from the veterinary community are invited to submit questions.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP), explored the use of a xenotransfusion protocol – in this case the transfer of blood from dogs to cats – and the outcome in recipient cats. The study has contributed towards helping inform vets all over the world about how dog blood can be used in this way.

The findings showed that while this technique may seem unusual, it can be used in emergency situations when insufficient cat blood is available. The technique can be lifesaving however, it is generally only a short-term solution and cannot be repeated as it can lead to a fatal transfusion reaction due to the development of anti-dog red blood cell antibodies. 

There is a lot of interest in xenotransfusion and as such, the BSAVA has selected the paper as one of its first topics to be discussed as part of the webinar series. During the session, vets will be given the opportunity to hear from, and share questions with two of the research project authors, Dr Alice Le Gal and Dr Karen Humm, from the RVC, to learn more about how the technique could be used in their practices.

dog lying on lawn
Tetley is one of lovely blood donors. When we couldn’t source any cat blood for Burberry we used Tetley’s blood as a xenotransfusion which allowed Burberry to become stable enough to have the operation he needed to repair his leg

Dr Karen Humm, Associate Professor in Transfusion Medicine and Emergency and Critical Care at the RVC, said: “We are really pleased our study was chosen by BSAVA, it’s an honour to be involved in this webinar series. There was very little information about how xenotransfusions can be used in cats in the veterinary literature before our study, and we hope that the information we report will help vets decide when and whether a xenotransfusion should be used.

“I also want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the wonderful Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA) blood donors, both dogs and cats. Their amazing contributions, and their owners’ dedication, allow us to save lives every week in our ICU in the QMHA. They also allow us to learn more about transfusion medicine and we pass on the knowledge we gain to the whole veterinary community to hopefully improve animal care all over the world”

Research reference

The full study, Xenotransfusion of canine blood to cats: a review of 49 cases and their outcome, was published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice. 

Notes to Editors

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About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London. It was the first in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • The RVC is the top veterinary school in the UK and Europe, and ranked as the world’s second highest veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2020.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research led institution with 79% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.

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