Dogs Have Eight Blood Types – Does Neonatal Isoerythrolysis Occur In Dogs?

Based on the blood typing system used in the United States, dogs are divided into eight different blood types depending upon the antigens present on their red blood cells.  Dog erythrocyte antigen (DEA) 1.1 is the most important to me in clinical practice because it is the most antigenic.  Repeated exposure of a DEA 1.1 negative dog to a positive will stimulate antibody production.  This may occur if a positive male is repeatedly bred to a negative female or the female was given an unmatched blood transfusion.  The female’s immune system produces antibodies that are secreted into the colostrum.  The result is a condition called neonatal isoerythrolysis, destruction of the puppy’s red blood cells if it is DEA 1.1 positive.    

Although I have seen this condition in cats, especially purebred ones, I have never observed it in dogs.  My experience seems to reflect what others are seeing in veterinary medicine, that the condition is more common in cats and horses.  Having said that, I would still be very careful when breeding a female that had an unmatched blood transfusion.  Prior to breeding, I recommend knowing the blood type of the male and female to insure neonatal isoerythrolysis does not occur.  I would not want to put the health and well-being of the litter in jeopardy. 

Canine Blood Types – Significance in Transfusion, Animal Blood Bank, Jan. 18, 2006.      

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.