Bone marrow in your dog is a connective tissue within the cavity of the bones which is infused by blood vessels. The active “red” bone marrow is responsible for red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. “Yellow” marrow is made up of mostly fatty tissue which is located in the shafts of long bones while the red marrow is located in the humerus, femur, pelvis and ribs.
Bone marrow makes up the production of all blood cells created from one common cell called the “stem cell”. Some blood cells are immature and remain in the bone marrow until they mature while other cells may travel to other parts of the body to mature. Without normal blood production, maturity and circulation, your dog can develop some diseases of the blood, bone marrow and stem cell fabrication. If your dog develops an infection, there is a production of more white blood cells and less red blood cells. Tests such as bone marrow biopsies are available to determine any blood and bone marrow abnormalities in your dog.
Symptoms of a disease or condition as a result of abnormalities with the blood and bone marrow depends upon the diagnosis. Some common symptoms may be lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and excess thirst and/or urination. If you suspect your dog is not feeling well, consult your veterinarian immediately for a complete medical examination, testing and a definitive diagnosis.
A bone marrow biopsy is a test which involves analyzing a sample of the marrow under a microscope to look for any cancerous cells in your dog’s body. The test can also reveal signs of other diseases and infection while measuring the effects of therapy and treatment. This is a painful procedure which must be planned and prepared for ahead of time. A general or local anesthesia will be necessary in order for your veterinarian to extract a bone marrow sample. Sometimes it is necessary to shave your dog in the area where the needle will be inserted to do the test. A small incision may be necessary for the biopsy. The test itself may take up to 30 minutes. It is advisable to keep your dog calm and quiet prior to the test.
There is normally no side effect from the actual bone marrow biopsy test itself. Minor side effects are sometimes experienced from the anesthesia. The anesthesia usually wears off within two to five hours and follow-up medication may be necessary for at-home care. Some dogs experience more pain than others. The incision area will need to be monitored for any infections as well. Once results of the biopsy are complete, a treatment plan will be put into place for the health and well-being of your dog.