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A platelet is a type of blood cell produced by the bone marrow that helps blood clot. If your pet gets a cut, the platelets go to the damaged blood vessels and clump together, sealing the leaking blood vessel.
Thrombocytopenia is a decrease of the platelets, in which causes increased bleeding and bruising.
The main cause is an autoimmune disease (the immune system attacks its own body). In this case, the immune system mistakenly thinks the platelets are enemies. The spleen then removes platelets from the blood 10 times faster than normal.
Other causes may include:
• Severe blood loss
• Infections
• Certain medications
• Bone marrow not producing enough platelets
• Bone marrow cancer, chemotherapy
• Pancreatitis
The lower the platelet count, the more signs your pet will show. Some pets may not show any signs, and thrombocytopenia will only be discovered with the bloodwork which Dr. Cowden recommends each year with a physical exam.
Signs include:
• Sudden, visible bruising
• Nosebleeds
• Blood in the urine and feces
• Prolonged clotting time after a cut or quicked nail
In order to properly diagnose your pet with thrombocytopenia, it may be necessary to perform:
• Blood tests: platelet count, complete blood count
• Urinalysis
• Bone marrow aspiration (using a needle to take a sample)
• Tests on the immune system
• Chest or abdominal x-rays: to check for underlying diseases
Depending on the cause it may require the following treatment methods:
• Blood transfusion: to stabilize your pet if anemic
• Medications: to treat any underlying causes
If the cause is immune-mediated, you must stop the spleen from removing platelets. There are medications for this. In some cases, your pet may need surgery to remove the spleen.
There is currently no known prevention against this condition.
The prognosis depends on the cause. A mild cause has an excellent prognosis. A more severe cause, such as cancer, has a more guarded prognosis.