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Clinically the most antigenic blood type in dogs is the DEA 1. Transfusion of DEA 1+ RBCs to a DEA 1- dog invariably elicits a strong alloantibody response. Following a first transfusion, anti-DEA 1 antibodies develop after more than 4 days and may cause a delayed transfusion reaction (rarely clinically documented). However, a previously sensitized DEA 1- dog can develop an acute hemolytic reaction after a second transfusion of DEA
1+ blood. Transfusion reactions also may occur after a sensitized dog receives blood that is mismatched for
a RBC antigen other than DEA 1 (e.g. DEA 4 and Dal). However, in most cases the incompatible blood type has not been determined. Because administration of a small (<1 ml) amount of incompatible blood can result in life-threatening reactions, the practice of giving small “test volumes” of donor blood to assess blood-type compatibilities is unacceptable. In contrast, pregnancy does not cause sensitization in dogs, because of a complete placenta, and does not induce alloantibody production; thus dogs with prior pregnancies can be used safely as blood donors.
Canine Blood-Typing Procedures
Because of the strong antigenicity of DEA 1, typing of donors for DEA 1 is recommended. Whenever possible, the recipient also should be typed to allow the use of DEA 1+ blood for DEA 1+ recipients. Canine blood typing tests are generally based on serologic identification
by agglutination reactions but chromatographic strip methods are also offered. Originally serum from sensitized dogs has been used for typing, but such polyvalent alloantibodies vary from batch to batch, may require Coombs’ reagent to enhance agglutination,
and may not be always available and are therefore not optimal. Two monoclonal antibodies against DEA 1 have been developed. The gel column technology, widely used in human blood banking, was found to be an excellent standardized laboratory method (DiaMed), but is unfortunately no longer commercially available. A blood typing card has been available with modifications since the mid-1990s as a simple in-practice kit to classify dogs as DEA 1- or DEA 1+ (degree of reaction can vary). a standardized simple immunochromatographic technique became available in the mid-2000s from Alvedia. Another cartridge with a similar strip technique was introduced by DMS/AgroLabo, but has not been evaluated. Moreover, a third cartridge method in which blood flows through the cartridge is also available (DMS/Abaxis) but seems to produce inconsistent results.
Polyclonal reagents against other DEA types are currently only available on a limited bases for DEA 3, 4 and 7 from Animal Blood Resource International (prior Michigan state University and Midwest Blood Services). And only limited anti-Dal reagents from sensitized dogs are currently available in a couple of laboratories like Montreal University and PennGen, monoclonal anti-Kai 1 and anti-Kai 2
An Urban Experience
alloantibodies have been developed in South Korea. DEA 1 typed and matched patients in need of a transfusion may be typed for DEA 4, Dal and Kai 1/2, which may then permit the localization of a type-matched donor dog.
Caution should be exercised whenever the patient’s blood is autoagglutinating or has a low hematocrit (<10%). If autoagglutination is not too severe, it does not appear to affect the Alvedia strip technique because only free RBCs are moving up the strip. Clinicians and technicians should check for autoagglutination of blood with buffer/saline on a slide or the card. Autoagglutinating blood may be first washed three times with ample physiological saline to overcome the apparent autoagglutination similar to what is done for the Coombs’ and crossmatch testing. However, if autoagglutination after three washes persists at more than 1+, it is considered to reflect true autoagglutination, which may preclude typing (as well as Coombs’ testing and crossmatching), because it always looks like DEA
1+ blood. In such circumstances, DEA 1- blood should be used, until the patient does not agglutinate anymore and can be retyped. DEA 1+ blood from severely anemic animals may not agglutinate when exposed to the anti- DEA 1 or other reagents because of a prozone effect.
In these cases, some of the patient’s plasma may be discarded before applying a drop of blood onto the card. Finally, recently transfused dogs may display a mixed field reaction, with only the transfused or recipient cells agglutinating if they were DEA 1 mismatched.
Blood Crossmatching Test
Whereas blood typing tests reveal the blood group antigens on the red blood cell surface, blood crossmatching tests assess the serologic compatibility or incompatibility between donor and recipient. Thus the crossmatch test checks for the presence or absence of naturally occurring and induced alloantibodies in serum (or plasma) without determining
the blood type and thus does not replace blood typing. These antibodies may be hemagglutinins and/or hemolysins and can be directed against known blood groups or other RBC surface antigens. Many laboratories commonly use
a standardized tube crossmatching procedure, but the interpretation of the agglutination reaction is highly variable. The crossmatching test requires some technical expertise, may be accomplished through a veterinary laboratory
along with blood typing, and is done with washed EDTA- anticoagulated blood from recipient and potential donor(s). The DiaMed gel column technique and more recently the in-clinic DMS gel tube assay have been evaluated and were found to be simple, sensitive, and standardized methods to crossmatch dogs and cats. In addition, Alvedia introduced a simple strip crossmatch test with a Coombs’ phase.
The major crossmatch tests search for alloantibodies in the recipient’s plasma against donor cells, whereas the minor crossmatch test looks for alloantibodies in the donor’s plasma against the recipient’s RBCs. Generally tube segments from collection bags are used for this

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