As we continue our anatomical tour through your pet ™s body, we get to the bones. Bone is a living, changing thing that serves many purposes. Bones provide structure, shape and support to the body. They allow animals to move in amazing ways. Bone provides protection for vital organs housed inside the skull, ribcage,pelvis and vertebral canal. Bone serves as a storage place for calcium, which is involved in muscle function and other vital processes. Bone marrow, found on the inside of bones, produces red blood cells, white cells and platelets. When animals are young, bones need to grow as the animal grows. Towards the end of most bones there is a cartilage-type plate called the growth plate, or physis. This is where all growth takes place. As the animal reaches its adult size, hormones cause these plates to close and fully calcify. If a growth plate is damaged, it can cause the bone to stop growing too early or to grow crooked. Since bones are alive, there are living cells all throughout the bone. If a bone is broken or undergoes stress, the bone will heal itself or remodel. Cells within the bone can lay down new calcium or can chew it up so the bone can be reshaped and strengthened.
Next week we will look at bone diseases, and then we ™ll examine joints and ligaments. Come by and visit us at Animal Care Clinic – maybe take a look at some bone x-rays!
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP