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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Platelets of Horses

By Peter H. Holmes, BVMS, PhD, Dr HC, FRCVS, FRSE, OBE, Emeritus Professor and Former Vice-Principal, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow ; Susan M. Cotter, DVM, DACVIM (Small Animal, Oncology) ; Wayne K. Jorgensen, BSc, PhD, Science Leader Applied Biotechnology Livestock, Agri-Science Queensland ; Susan L. Payne, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University ; Nemi C. Jain, MVSc, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Pathology, Department of Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine. University of California

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Platelets are small, cell-like particles produced in the bone marrow. Their main function is to start the formation of blood clots. Platelets gather where bleeding occurs and clump together to form the initial plug that stops or slows down the flow of blood. Platelets also release other substances needed to complete the clotting process.

Platelet disorders can result from having too few or too many platelets or from impaired platelet function. In general, when platelet counts fall very low there is an increased risk of bleeding. Decreased numbers of platelets may be caused by drugs, toxins, or disorders of the bone marrow.

An abnormal increase in the number of platelets is rare and often the cause is not known. It may be associated with bone marrow disease or with longterm blood loss and iron deficiency. There are also disorders in which platelets do not function properly.