The Blood Matters Blog ·

Do Animals Have Different Blood Types?

We talk a lot about our own blood types, but what about blood types for animals like dogs and cats, horses and cows?


Here at Our Blood Institute, we think a lot about blood — it's kind of our job! We're pretty focused on maintaining a strong blood supply for all the communities we serve across Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, and for good reason. Someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds!

Of course, those "someones" are people, but what about our animal friends? They sometimes require blood transfusions, too. That's why we've dedicated this blog post to the exploration of the unique blood types and systems of some animals who tend to make our lives so much brighter.

Wait, We're Animals! How Many Blood Types Do Humans Have?

Before we get too far into the different blood types of our furry friends, let's not forget about our own animal selves! Humans have four main blood groups — A, B, AB and O — that can be broken down further into eight blood types: O-, O+, B-, B+, A-, A+, AB- and AB+.

Knowing your blood type is important for safe blood transfusions and medical treatments. Don’t know your blood type? If you’ve donated with OBI before, you can check your donor portal for your blood type. If you haven’t yet donated with us, please consider making an appointment with us. That way you can find out your blood type and save up to three lives in the process!

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Dog Blood Types

While human blood types are based on three antigens (A, B and O), dogs have at least eight! These antigens, called Dog Erythrocyte Antigens, include DEA 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, and so on. Here's a little more information about what that all means.

  • Like O- negative human donors, dogs with DEA 1.1-negative are considered universal donors. Did we mention we love our universal donors?
  • The overwhelming majority of dogs — ruffly 98% — have DEA 1.4 and DEA 1.6 antigens. So if your dog has only those two antigens on their red blood cells, congrats! Your pup is also super donor.
  • If your dog is DEA 1.1-positive, they're universal recipients. Golden Retrievers and Labradors often fall into this lucky bucket.

Think your dog might be a great candidate to donate blood? According to PetMD, the ideal doggy donor is:

  • Over 50 pounds while still at a healthy weight for their size
  • Up to date on vaccines
  • Healthy, not on any medication and free of infectious disease
  • Calm
  • DEA 1-negative

Of course, if you have any questions about your dog's blood type or viability as a donor, your best option is to consult with your local veterinarian.

Cat Blood Types

Admittedly, dog blood groups can sound a little alien. The primary blood groups of cats, however, are much more recognizable: A, B and AB. These aren't the same groups that we humans fall under, to be clear, they just happen to share some letters! A fourth group, mic, has also been identified in recent years.

Unfortunately, there are no universal donors or recipients when it comes to cats, as they naturally have antibodies against the blood group antigen they lack. Upwards of 90% of cats, though, have type A blood. Type B, found more often in exotic purebred felines, is still quite uncommon. Type AB is considered very rare.

Horse Blood Types

There are seven internationally recognized blood groups in horses: A, C, D, K, P, Q and U. Each of them, though, has different associated antigens, or factors. Over 30 such factos have been identified, making horses blood-type system fairly — neigh — very complicated.

Because of the complexity in horses blood type, running tests for compatibility between donor and recipient is essential before any transfusions can be done. Additionally, blood typing can be important for horses when breeding as certain inherited combinations can put the foal at life-threatening risk.

Cow Blood Types

Believe it or not, cows have an even more complex blood-type system than horses! Cows have 11 major blood groups: A, B, C, F, J, L, M, R, S, T, and Z. The most common blood type in cows is A or F, but get this: the B blood type alone has over 60 different factors. Umm, holy cow!

So how many blood types do cows have? While they're said to have at least 800 blood types, the sheer number of factors present within cattle blood groups means there are likely far more. This, of course, speaks to the incredible complexity of their blood systems, which means donors must be crossmatched before they can give to the recipient.

It Takes All Types

We hope that you found all this talk of animal blood types informative and helpful. After all, they're part of our community, too!

Now, back to us humans: it's no secret that without donors, lifesaving blood won't be available when it's needed most. So consider giving today and know that your decision will be making a profound difference.

Not sure if you can donate? Check out our FAQ eligibility page. Ready to save some lives? Visit the link below.

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