Oct 12, 2018

What happens to my dog’s stem cells if I move?

For those of you who have had your dog treated with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy, you may know that we store stem cells from nearly every patient who has had a sample processed at VetStem.  Banked doses are cryopreserved and can be carefully recovered from cryopreservation should your dog require future treatments.  But what happens if you move and no longer see the veterinarian who originally treated your dog?  This is a question we have received in the past and the good news is that VetStem has trained close to 5,000 veterinarians to perform stem cell therapy and if there is not one near you then most licensed veterinarians can be trained to use VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.

Take Bowie for instance.  Bowie is a 13-year-old Japanese Chin who showed his enthusiasm for life by spinning in circles, or doing “chin spins,” as his owner called it.  He would use his left hind leg to pivot so it was no surprise that by the time he was 5 years old, he was showing signs of severe degenerative joint disease.  His veterinarian at the time, Dr. Patrick Leadbeater of Kahala Pet Hospital in Hawaii, performed surgery on Bowie’s knee and treated him with stem cells in 2010 and again in 2015.

In 2016, Bowie’s owners moved to California.  In 2018, Bowie began showing signs of arthritis once again.  Fortunately, Bowie had several stem cell doses banked.  His owners took him for a consult with their new veterinarian, Dr. Andreana Lim of McGrath Veterinary Center.  Though credentialed to perform VetStem Cell Therapy, Dr. Lim had not yet treated a stem cell patient.  In June 2018, Bowie became her first stem cell patient.  He received injections in both hips and both knees.

Our veterinarians span across the United States and Canada so if you move, we will help you find a credentialed veterinarian near you or will help a veterinarian of your choosing become VetStem credentialed.  Need to find a VetStem credentialed veterinarian near you?  Click here to receive a list of veterinarians near you.

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Oct 5, 2018

Mandy, the Tripod Mini Aussie, Experiences Improved Mobility

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Stem Cells

Mandy’s mobility issues began when she was around four years old.  She broke her right front leg in three places and after several failed surgeries, she ended up having the leg amputated.  Not long after, she began showing symptoms of arthritis in her rear end.  Mandy’s mom, Susan, took her for a consult with Dr. Jerrold Bausman of VCA Veterinary Specialists of the Valley.  Dr. Bausman confirmed that Mandy had arthritis in her hips and ankles and recommended treatment with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.

Mandy received her stem cell treatment in December 2017 and Susan noticed improvement in her mobility shortly after.  You can read the rest of Mandy’s story here.

We recently checked in with Susan and Mandy is still doing great!  Mandy is eight years old now and has stem cell doses stored at VetStem should she require future treatments.

If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, visit your veterinarian to determine if stem cell therapy may help.  Or you can contact us for a list of stem cell providers in your area.

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Sep 28, 2018

Feline Arthritis: It’s Not Just a Dog Problem

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Stem Cell Therapy

As you may know, the majority of our blogs focus on canine arthritis.  But let’s not forget about our feline friends.  Like dogs, cats are living longer, healthier lives and also suffer from common “old age” problems such as osteoarthritis. In fact, in a retrospective study conducted at a major veterinary school, radiographs from 100 cats that were presented to the teaching hospital for illnesses unrelated to arthritis were re-evaluated.  90% of the cats had radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease.

How do you know if your cat has arthritis?  Well, first of all, they may not show the same
signs of arthritis that dogs do.  For instance, they may not noticeably limp the way dogs do.  Cats generally hide their pain very well.  Listed below are some questions you can ask yourself to see if your cat may have osteoarthritis.

  1. Is your cat less active than he/she used to be?  While cats are not known to be high performance athletes, a change in activity level may indicate pain associated with arthritis and not necessarily just normal ‘lazy’ cat behavior.
  2. Is your cat missing the litterbox? While this could be a behavioral issue or the sign of a kidney or bladder issue, also consider OA. Some cats may be too painful to want to step into and out of a litterbox.
  3. Does your cat take longer to get up from lying down or have difficulty moving around?  If your cat no longer jumps on that high ledge like he/she used to, your cat may have arthritis.

Did you answer yes to one or more of the above questions?  If so, you should consult with your veterinarian to determine if your cat has arthritis.  While there are not a lot of safe options for controlling pain in cats, VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy has been shown to be a low-risk and effective treatment for osteoarthritis.  If you are interested in consulting with a credentialed VetStem provider, contact us to receive a list of providers in your area.

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Sep 21, 2018

VetStem Patient, Argo, on Local News!

It was recently brought to our attention that a VetStem patient named Argo was featured on the local news for his stem cell treatment.  Argo is a 5-year-old chocolate Labrador with arthritis in several joints.  He received stem cell injections in his shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees by Dr. Angie Zinkus of Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital.  He also received platelet therapy injections in each joint utilizing Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET), to further stimulate the natural healing process.

Click on the picture below to watch Argo’s 15 minutes of fame! (scroll down to the second video)

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Sep 14, 2018

Regenerative Medicine Experts Meet at NAVRMA Conference

Last week I attended a veterinary regenerative medicine conference in Sacramento, California.  The North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association (NAVRMA) was founded in 2010 to bring together the best minds in the stem cell world to discuss research findings and share perspectives on how stem cells can provide treatment options for animals.  Over 100 of the key veterinary stem cell scientists and practitioners met and were educated by the academic and scientific leaders of stem cell research.  I was an invited speaker and was also asked to lead a workshop focused on the education of veterinarians about being a clinical study investigator.  On Sunday, September 9th, I presented ground-breaking stem cell safety data from the VetStem Research and Development program as part of our FDA product development.

Lectures ranged from clinical applications to basic science and discovery of how stem cells work and how they can best be applied to solve veterinary disease challenges.  Included in the program were talks on kidney disease, arthritis and lameness, and many immune-mediated diseases.  The keynote lecture by human doctor Farshid Guilak from Washington University focused on new discoveries of how we can modify stem cells for even better disease-fighting power.  Very cutting-edge work!

VetStem is proud to be in the forefront in bringing cell therapy into the hands of the practicing veterinarian and we are grateful to the many horse and pet owners that have trusted stem cell therapy for the care of their beloved animals.  I have been a regular speaker at the NAVRMA meetings and this meeting, as in the past, has provided opportunities to collaborate with stem cell enthusiasts around the world with the goal of bringing the healing power of regenerative medicine to our animals in the most rapid manner.

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Sep 7, 2018

Doberman With Bad Knees Experiences Relief After Stem Cells

This week’s blog is about Gabby, a ten-year-old Doberman pinscher.  Gabby had a string of bad luck beginning in August 2016 when she tore the cruciate ligament in her left knee.  Though she had surgery to repair the torn ligament, she ended up suffering a partial tear to her right cruciate ligament during her recovery.  Approximately one year later, she stopped using her right rear leg, which was likely due to the arthritis and scar tissue that formed in the joint after she partially tore her cruciate ligament.

Due to the severity of her arthritis and joint swelling, her veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Tate of Sylvania Veterinary Hospital, did not feel she would be a good candidate for surgical repair and instead recommended treatment with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.

Gabby was treated with stem cell therapy in November 2017 and quickly showed signs of improvement.  Her owner, Ann, stated that she felt like Gabby was five years younger and that she would bark at her to get up in the morning to play (we’re sorry about that, Ann!).  You can read the rest of Gabby’s story here.

We recently checked in to see how Gabby is doing and according to Ann, “Grabby is still doing great! She hasn’t slowed down at all. She runs zoomies, jumps over the couch, and jumps to greet me when I come home. You would never know she’s 10 years old, and I’m so thankful we did the stem cell treatment!”  Yay, Gabby!!

If your dog has arthritis, VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy may provide some relief.  You can speak to your veterinarian about the treatment or you can request a list of veterinary stem cell providers in your area here.

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Aug 31, 2018

Advice for Those Considering Stem Cells for Their Dog

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Stem Cells

Has your dog been diagnosed with osteoarthritis?  Are you considering stem cell therapy?  In an effort to help you make your decision, we reached out to a few of our stem cell advocates to inquire about their decision-making process.  Below you will find some words of advice from actual VetStem customers that may help you with your decision to move forward with stem cell therapy.

After researching the various options to help Maverick and trying acupuncture and aqua therapy, we were willing to invest in Stem Cell Therapy.  Our only hope was that he remained at the same stage he was at before the treatment.  We wanted to stop the progression and if he received any other benefits, that would be a bonus.”

 “I recommend people do the research, speak to the experts, listen to first hand experiences and make an informed decision. I will never regret having gone down this path. The end result was more quality time and improved quality of life for my girl.” 

 Yes, the cost was also a factor, but we found that CARECREDIT can be used for this treatment and it’s interest free for 12 months.” (Side note: several pet insurance companies also cover all or a portion of stem cell therapy!)

I think that we didn’t have high expectations for a drastic change or a specific timeline or benchmarks for progress.  We just didn’t want him to get worse.  But after 6 to 7 weeks, the improvement in his mobility and stamina was significant.  We couldn’t believe the change from a slow-moving senior to very active younger dog.”   

Any time a senior dog has surgery, it’s always a concern.  The procedure was shorter than we anticipated, and his recovery was very quick with no side effects.”

“The post-op physical therapy which we did faithfully for 2 weeks, really was one of the things that we found most important for a successful treatment.  Also, we continued with acupuncture and aqua therapy after the two weeks.  Maverick still goes for aqua therapy (swimming) once a week and acupuncture once a month.”

There are some key points that stand out from the above advice.

  • Do your research. Speak with your veterinarian, have him/her do an in-depth lameness exam and X-rays if not already done. Determine where the arthritis is located, how severe it is, and if your dog is a good candidate for the procedure.  Keep in mind VetStem veterinarians are available to consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s case if needed.  If your veterinarian is not VetStem Credentialed, you can take this letter to help him/her understand more about VetStem Cell Therapy.
  • Look into financial coverage options such as CareCredit and pet insurance. Some veterinary hospitals even have internal payment plans.
  • Work with your veterinarian to set realistic expectations. What do we mean by this?  Let’s say you have a 12-year-old Labrador with severe arthritis in several joints.  An unrealistic expectation would be for him to return to bouncy, puppy-like behavior.  A realistic expectation would be for him to move around more comfortably and be in less pain thus having a better quality of life.
  • Follow your veterinarian’s advice for post-treatment physical rehab. Routine rehabilitation exercises may enhance your dog’s recovery.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue stem cell therapy is yours and yours alone.  But you’re not alone in the decision-making process.  Your veterinarian, along with VetStem experts, can answer your questions and address any concerns you may have regarding stem cell therapy for your dog.  You can email us or call 858-748-2004 (Toll Free: 1-88-VETSTEM1) and we would be happy to speak with you about your dog’s specific case.

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Aug 24, 2018

Adopted Golden Retriever Gets a New Lease on Life

At 8 years old, Maverick found himself in the unfortunate situation of being at a local humane society.  Fortunately for Maverick, Irene had just lost her beloved 13-year-old golden retriever, Zeke, and was searching for a companion for her other dog, Reilly.  Though Maverick was listed as dog aggressive, he and Reilly became best friends straight away and Irene took Maverick home.

Shortly after adopting Maverick, Irene realized he was showing symptoms of arthritis: he couldn’t jump onto the bed or couch and he bunny-hopped up the stairs.  X-rays revealed that Maverick had hip dysplasia which, over the years, led to severe osteoarthritis in his hips.  After some research, Irene contacted VetStem to request a list of VetStem providers in her area and took Maverick for a stem cell consultation and treatment with Dr. David Monti of Ridge Animal Hospital.

A few months after treatment, Irene noted that Maverick’s mobility was improving.  He was no longer bunny-hopping up the stairs and began jumping on the sofa.  He also began playing fetch with much greater stamina!  You can read the rest of Maverick’s story here.

We recently checked in with Irene and she reported that Maverick continues to do great.  He still goes for his weekly swims and his monthly acupuncture and according to Irene, “going to the dog park and playing

fetch in the pond is still his favorite.”  She also said, “Maverick’s quality of life has improved tremendously. He has a new zest for life and is making up for all the years when he was in pain and so limited in his mobility.”

One might wonder why, at 8 years old, Maverick ended up at the shelter.  Whatever the reason, he and Irene are lucky they found each other.  It is clear they share a special bond.  Irene said, “we’re so grateful to have him. He’s the love of our life.” If I had to guess, I’m sure Maverick feels the same.

This picture is a bit blurry but the expression on Maverick’s face with his ears flapping in the wind says it all!

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Aug 17, 2018

Does it matter where the fat for stem cell therapy comes from?

A very common question from veterinarians and dog owners is, “Does it matter where you take the fat from for stem cell therapy?”  The simple answer is “No” but let me explain.  (Actually, if you were the dog, you might object to my statement…)  First, why are we interested in fat anyway? This is because, of all the tissues in the body, the fat tissue is the easiest to collect (we all have extra) and it is the most rich in stem cells.  Yes, even more than bone marrow by a factor of 500X!  The fat in our bodies, and of our pets, is the richest and easiest source of these incredible regenerative cells.

So, where to take a little nip and tuck?  A very well done scientific paper analyzed the VetStem database to see if the collection location made a difference (Astor, 2013).  First, let’s define “difference.”  Scientists use statistical tests to see small differences, but for our purposes, let’s say that a difference is significant if it means we have to collect a lot more fat to get the same number of cells.  Using this definition, there is essentially no real difference between taking fat under the skin in the belly, under the skin by the shoulder, or making a small incision like in a spay and taking a sample from the abdomen.  All are essentially the same.  The paper also looked at differences by age, breed, and sex of the patient and got the same answer: there were small differences but none that really mattered.

So what is the conclusion?  You veterinarian can collect fat from any of these three locations and should be able to get a good yield of stem cells from each.  That being said, about 75% of all fat collections are from the “spay” type method of getting abdominal fat.  Even skinny dogs have fat there and it is quick and easy for both the veterinarian and the patient.  But all three methods are perfectly acceptable in the clinic and will provide a very rich source of stem cells for use in regenerative medicine.

 

References

Astor D, Hoelzler M, Harman R, Bastian R.  Patient factors influencing the concentration of stromal vascular fraction (SVF) for adipose-derived stromal cell (ASC) therapy in dogs. Can J Vet Res 2013;77:177-182.

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Aug 10, 2018

Cattle Dog Experiences Years of Relief After Stem Cell Therapy

Those of you who have been following our blog all of these years may remember our friend, Whisper, the Australian cattle dog who is an agility champion and one of our stem cell advocates.  She was initially treated in 2009 for osteoarthritis and OCD in both elbows.  She was treated a second time in 2011 and this time had both elbows along with her right knee and right hock (ankle) treated.  You can catch up on Whisper’s story and outcome here and here.

Recently, Whisper’s mom, Elise, contacted VetStem and provided us with an update.  Whisper just turned 12 yesterday, on August 9th, and according to Elise, ”she’s still nutty!”.  She stated that her elbows are “perfect” and that her hock is thickened however it is holding up well and is not a problem day-to-day.  Whisper enjoys swimming and running in the forest daily.  As you can see from the picture her mom sent, she’s enjoying life!

Since her last treatment in 2011, Whisper has not required further stem cell treatments.  This however is not the case for all dogs treated with stem cells.  It is important for pet owners to understand that each pet responds differently to stem cell therapy, much like every person responds differently to medications.  Your veterinarian will be able to determine if your dog is a good candidate for stem cell therapy.  Or, if you are looking for a veterinarian who can perform VetStem Cell Therapy, click here to receive a list of veterinary stem cell providers in your area.

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