Australian vets at the University of Melbourne have discovered that dogs can now have their blood type tested, potentially saving thousands of canine lives.
Currently, dogs can only have one blood transfusion in their lives because of the risk of a harmful immune reaction. However, vets believe that soon it will be possible to administer blood of the right type, just as it is in humans, preventing life-threatening rejection in dogs. The researchers say the findings will "revolutionise dog treatment".
Ian Walker, of the University of Melbourne, said the research was the first of its kind and had the potential to transform canine veterinary practice, particularly in emergency clinics.
Professor Walker said that, unlike humans there is currently no reliable way to determine a dog's blood type, which means they are at great risk of rejecting blood given to them if they have to receive more than one transfusion. To put this simply, in a dog which had received blood after an accident, a subsequent transfusion may actually prove fatal.
The new research, which was carried out by PhD student Kate Hsuen-Wen Chang, used genetically engineered antibodies to identify different canine blood types.
Professor Walker said: "In an emergency clinic, having a readily available way of testing blood types would benefit hundreds of dogs a year."