Oct 15, 2021

Agility Dog Returns to Competition after VetStem Cell Therapy

Charm is a nine-year-old dalmatian and accomplished agility champion. Though she has always had a strong will to perform, Charm has had a few setbacks along the way. In 2016, Charm partially tore her cruciate ligament in her left knee. After consulting with her veterinarian and doing some independent research, Charm’s owner elected to have Charm treated with platelet rich plasma (PRP) and VetStem Cell Therapy.

To begin the process, fat tissue was collected from Charm’s inguinal area during a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. Once collected, the fat was aseptically packaged and shipped to the VetStem laboratory in Poway, California. VetStem lab technicians processed the fat to extract and concentrate the stem and regenerative cells contained therein. One stem cell injection was shipped to her veterinarian for treatment. Approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection procedure, Charm received one dose of her own stem cells and PRP into her injured knee.

Charm

According to her owner, Charm recovered well and returned to agility five months later. Unfortunately, this then four-year-old active dog, continued to show signs of intermittent lameness and stiffness. Though her X-rays showed no arthritis, further testing revealed that Charm had Lyme disease. This helped to explain her lameness as a few of the common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs are painful or swollen joints and lameness that comes and goes. Though there is limited data regarding stem cell therapy for Lyme disease, Charm’s owner elected to have her retreated with stem cells in an attempt to manage her symptoms.

Charm received a second round of stem cell injections approximately one year after her initial treatment. This time, she received one dose into her left knee and one intravenous dose in conjunction with PRP. She was also treated with homeopathic remedies, hydrotherapy, and strength training. According to her owner, Charm bounced back and returned to master level agility trials. Her owner stated, “She feels great, her quantitative Lyme levels are subclinical, and she is running, jumping, and playing like a puppy again.” She later went on to win Agility Champion of Canada Awards, 5th place at Agility Association Canada Nationals plus a Distance Log from the Dalmatian Club of Canada. Charm received a third round of stem cell injections, both in her left knee and intravenously, approximately two years later.

Fast forward another few years and Charm, being the active athlete that she is, injured the cruciate ligament in her right knee. Fortunately, she still had multiple stem cell doses cryopreserved. So, in January of this year, Charm received a stem cell injection into her right knee. Once again, her owner noticed marked improvement. She stated, “This now nine-year-old girl is feeling wonderful just 5 weeks after her stem cell injection and no signs of any arthritic pain!”

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Oct 8, 2021

How Obesity in Pets Can Lead to Osteoarthritis

Posted by Bob under osteoarthritis, Pet Obesity

Last week, we talked about the benefits of walking our dogs and how it can help reduce or maintain weight which may help to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA). There is no doubt that obesity may cause or exacerbate OA. And since we’re coming up on National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, we thought it would be perfect to discuss the link between obesity and osteoarthritis.

Obesity and Osteoarthritis are on the Rise

According to reports conducted by Banfield, both obesity and osteoarthritis are on the rise in pets. According to these reports, approximately 1 out of every 3 dogs and cats are overweight and obesity has risen 169% in cats and 158% in dogs over the past ten years. Similarly, osteoarthritis has increased 150% in cats and 66% in dogs over the past ten years. This same report notes that 52% of dogs that have OA are also overweight or obese while 41% of cats with OA are overweight or obese.

Link Between Obesity and Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a painful inflammatory condition of the joints that is progressive, meaning without intervention it continues to get worse over time. One of its most significant contributing factors in dogs and cats is being overweight. In fact, dogs that are overweight or obese are 2.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis. With obesity in pets on the rise, it makes sense that osteoarthritis is also on the rise.

The link between obesity and osteoarthritis is an unfortunate vicious cycle: Weight gain causes more wear and tear on your pet’s joints, leading them to be less active and potentially gain more weight. Likewise, sore joints can lead to a pet being less active which can then lead to weight gain. If weight is not lost, the cycle will continue.

Furthermore, reduced activity often leads to more stiffness and pain. As we discussed in last week’s blog, regular, low-impact exercise tailored to your dog’s breed and physical abilities may reduce the severity or even delay the onset of osteoarthritis. Regular physical activity helps to build and maintain muscle mass as well as aid in joint fluid circulation, both of which support healthier joints.

So, what can you do?

Your best resource is your veterinarian. He/She can help to determine if your pet is overweight or obese and if so, can come up with a diet and exercise regimen to help your pet get to an ideal weight. If you’re unsure if your pet is overweight, the below chart is a helpful visual guide, but it should only be used as a reference, not necessarily a diagnostic tool.

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Oct 1, 2021

Take a Walk to Improve Your Dog’s Osteoarthritis

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Osteoarthritis

Today, October 1st, kicks off National Walk Your Dog Week! The idea of this week is to raise awareness about the health benefits of regular exercise for your dog. Low impact exercise, such as walking, comes with several potential health benefits.

Walking to Reduce Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, regular walking comes with several benefits which may lead to healthier joints such as muscle strengthening, joint fluid circulation, and weight loss. Increasing muscle mass allows the pressure and weight to shift from your joints to your muscles. While an increase in joint fluid circulation is beneficial to maintaining healthy joint cartilage.

Additionally, weight loss is an important factor when it comes to managing pain and lameness associated with osteoarthritis. Excess weight leads to increased wear and tear on a dog’s joints and can therefore lead to the onset or worsening of osteoarthritis. Walking can help to reduce your dog’s weight and/or maintain a healthy weight. Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can benefit arthritic joints and one study found that weight loss significantly decreased lameness in obese dogs with OA.

How to Exercise Your Dog

Experts agree that regular, short-interval exercise is key, as opposed to doing one big activity on the weekends, such as a long hike. Regular exercise may be something as simple as taking a walk daily or on most days. But it is important to note that different pets require different exercise regimens. One of your best resources is your veterinarian. He/She can help you build an exercise plan tailored specifically to your pet.

And the best news is, these same principles apply to people! So, if you suffer from osteoarthritis or are just looking for a low-impact exercise to stay active, taking your dog on routine walks can be beneficial to you both! Happy National Walk Your Dog Week!

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Sep 24, 2021

Veterinary Pain Practitioner Uses VetStem Cell Therapy

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets, VetStem Cell Therapy

As we wrap up Animal Pain Awareness Month, we wanted to share a success story from an experienced VetStem user and animal pain specialist. In case you missed our last few blogs about pain in pets, here is a brief recap:

  • September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, which was created by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) in an effort to raise awareness and to help pet owners recognize and manage their pet’s pain.
  • Recognizing pain in pets – When it comes to pain in pets, it’s not always easy to tell that our animals are hurting. Some pets are masters at hiding their pain. But there are some tips and tricks to help determine if your pet might be in pain.
  • VetStem Cell Therapy for pain – Stem cells have shown the ability to directly modulate acute and chronic pain.

Veterinary Pain Specialists

Just like there are specialists for specific branches of medicine such as surgery and internal medicine, there are also specialists in veterinary pain management. The IVAPM offers a certification in pain management for veterinarians who have practiced and studied animal pain management. Below, we will introduce you to Dr. Jamie Gaynor, a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner (CVPP) and avid VetStem user.

Dr. Jamie Gaynor, DVM, DACVA, DACVPM

Dr. Gaynor is one of the first veterinarians to utilize VetStem Cell Therapy in dogs. He has been working with VetStem since 2006 and has provided VetStem cell processing services for nearly 200 patients. One of his patients, a Great Dane with a partially torn cruciate ligament, experienced great relief after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy. Read his story below:

Frank Experiences an Improved Quality of Life after Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

Frank is an albino, deaf Great Dane. His owners rescued him when he was four months old from a breeder who did not want him due to his health issues. Despite his hearing impairment, he was always an active and playful pup. Frank bonded with his brother, another Great Dane named Tom, and the two would play all day, every day. As the two grew, playtime became rougher, and Frank ended up injuring his right rear leg.

Frank

Once diagnosed with a partially torn cruciate ligament, Frank underwent two years of physical rehabilitation. Though he showed a lot of improvement, VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy came up as a potential option to treat the arthritis that formed in Frank’s stifle as a result of his injury. Frank was referred to Dr. Gaynor and his owner elected to move forward with the stem cell procedure.

In a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure, fat was collected from Frank’s abdomen and shipped off to the VetStem laboratory in San Diego, California. Upon receipt, the fat was aseptically processed to extract the stem cells and injectable doses of Frank’s own stem and regenerative cells were created. Three doses were shipped back to Dr. Gaynor and Frank received one injection into each knee and one intravenous injection.

According to Frank’s owner, Frank showed major improvement less than three months after receiving stem cells. His owner stated, “Actually, Frank was acting like a puppy again. His energy level went up, he became more involved and interested in daily activities. He started playing with his brothers again, he rebuilt his confidence with stairs and jumping into the car and on the couch. Most of all, we have not seen him limp once since his stem cell treatment…He truly is back to his old self again.”

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Sep 17, 2021

Stem Cell Therapy and Pain Reduction

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets, Stem Cell Therapy

It’s still Animal Pain Awareness Month so we have another pain-themed blog for you. This week, we are talking about how stem cell therapy may reduce pain in pets. We frequently share stories about pets who have gained a better quality of life after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. And while we know stem cells have multiple mechanisms of action, one lesser-known mechanism is the ability to modulate pain.

You may remember last week’s blog in which we discussed the various classifications of pain. To briefly review, those were:

  • Nociceptive – caused by noxious stimulation (injury/physical damage, exposure to chemicals or exposure to extreme temperatures)
  • Inflammatory – caused by acute or chronic inflammation
  • Neuropathic – from damage to an element of the nervous system
VetStem recipient Deuce had decreased pain after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy for osteoarthritis and tendonitis.

Below, we will discuss how stem cells have the ability to address each one of these pain classifications.

Stem Cells are Anti-Inflammatory

For many years, differentiation was believed to be the primary function of regenerative stem cells. More recent literature, however, supports the notion that stem cell therapy may be an effective treatment option for pain management. The ability of stem cells to regulate inflammation is important when it comes to pain management. By reducing inflammation, stem cells promote healing and increased comfort.

Stem Cells Act Directly on Acute and Chronic Pain

While a reduction in inflammation can lead to increased comfort, current literature supports that stem cells have the ability to address both acute and chronic pain directly. Stem cells have been shown to secrete pain blocking cytokines (small proteins), which can have opioid-like effects. Stem cells have also shown the ability to reduce neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nervous tissue).

If you think your pet may benefit from stem cell therapy, contact us for a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Sep 9, 2021

How to Recognize Pain in Pets

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

We are officially in the second week of Animal Pain Awareness Month. For those who missed last week’s blog, September was declared Animal Pain Awareness Month by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) to help owners recognize the signs of pain in pets so they can seek help from a veterinarian when needed.

When it comes to pain in pets, it’s not always easy to tell that our animals are hurting. Some pets are masters at hiding their pain. But there are some tips and tricks to help determine if your pet might be in pain. It is also helpful to understand the various types and causes of pain.

Types of Pain in Pets

There are multiple types of pain in pets. But first, we must understand the difference between acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is characterized by pain that has come on suddenly or has only been present for a short period of time. Examples of acute pain include pain after surgery or from a new injury, such as a fall. Alternatively, chronic pain can be more subtle and may be considered just “slowing down” or “getting old.” An example of chronic pain is osteoarthritis pain.

Digging a little deeper, we can look at the three primary classifications of pain. The first is nociceptive pain. This type of pain is caused by noxious stimulation such as an injury/physical damage, exposure to chemicals, or exposure to extreme temperatures. The next classification of pain, and one that we talk about frequently on this blog, is inflammatory pain. As its name implies, this type of pain stems from acute or chronic inflammation. And lastly, we have neuropathic pain which is caused by damage to an element of the nervous system.

Signs that your Pet may be in Pain
But how do you know if your pet is in pain? As we mentioned, pets can be good at hiding their pain. Fortunately, there are some potential signs of pain in pets that you can keep an eye out for. The IVAPM has provided a list of the most common signs of pain in pets:

  • Decreased activity – Take notice if your animal is not playing as much as usual
  • Not going up or down stairs – This could be an early sign of osteoarthritis
  • Reluctance to jump onto surfaces – This especially applies to cats
  • Difficulty standing after laying down – This is a sign of osteoarthritis
  • Decreased appetite – This can signal mouth pain
  • Over grooming or licking a particular area – This can be a sign of referred pain

For a more extensive list of symptoms of pain in both dogs and cats, visit the IVAPM website.

While September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, it’s a good idea to always keep an eye out for these potential signs of pain. If you notice that your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, call your veterinarian. And stay tuned for next week’s blog about how stem cells can treat pain!

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Sep 3, 2021

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

September is a very special month in the veterinary world. It is Animal Pain Awareness month, which was created by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) in an effort to raise awareness and to help pet owners recognize and manage their pet’s pain.

Some pets, especially cats, are masters at hiding their pain. So, it is important for animal owners, with the help of their veterinarians, to be able to recognize pain in their pets. There are multiple educational resources available to help owners recognize pain in their pets. For instance, owners can learn about the different types of pain as well as the typical signs of pain. These tools can help owners determine if their pet may be in pain and if a visit to the veterinarian is in order.

Your veterinarian will also help with pain management. Whether your pet may benefit from rehabilitative exercises, joint supplements, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, or other pain medications, your veterinarian can help to get your pet on the right track to living a pain free life. There are multiple treatment modalities when it comes to pain management, with both naturopathic and drug-based therapies, or a combination of the two. One more natural option is VetStem Cell Therapy. Stem cells have shown the ability to modulate both acute and chronic pain. But we will talk more about that in a later blog.

This month’s blogs will all be dedicated to recognizing and managing pain in pets. In the coming weeks, we will share information about the different types of pain and also how to tell if your dog or cat is in pain so stay tuned! And as always, if you think your pet may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area. 

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Aug 27, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy for Dogs on National Dog Day

Posted by Bob under Dog Stem Cells, VetStem Cell Therapy

August 26th is National Dog Day. This day was founded in 2004 and celebrates dogs of all breeds. The stated mission is to bring attention to all the dogs that need rescuing as well as honor both family dogs and working dogs. For our own celebration, we would like to discuss the various uses of VetStem Cell Therapy in dogs!

VetStem Cell Therapy for Dogs

Though the first patient to be treated with VetStem Cell Therapy was a horse, dogs followed closely behind. Initially, we worked with select veterinary clinics to evaluate the use of VetStem Cell Therapy for osteoarthritis (OA) and orthopedic soft tissue injures such as cruciate ligament tears. After several years of collecting and analyzing data, we published two peer-reviewed studies. The first, in 2007, evaluated the use of stem cells for chronic hip OA. The second was published in 2008 and looked at stem cells for chronic elbow OA. Both studies concluded that treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy led to reduced lameness and pain as well as increased range of motion in the affected dogs.

VetStem Cell Therapy for More than OA

Though dogs were initially treated primarily for orthopedic conditions, we eventually broadened our research interests. Veterinarians have now used VetStem Cell Therapy to treat a wide array of conditions in dogs including organ failure, inflammatory bowel disease, back pain, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS or “Dry Eye”). Though we do not have any completed peer-review studies for these conditions, some dogs have experienced good results!

VetStem Cell Therapy for Canine Back Pain and IVDD

Canine back pain is one of VetStem’s current clinical research programs. A clinical research program is designed to evaluate the safety and possible effectiveness of VetStem Cell Therapy for specific conditions. One condition that falls under our back pain clinical research program is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). This is a condition in which one or several intervertebral discs in the spine bulge, resulting in pressure on the spinal cord and leading to pain and possibly the loss of limb function. While IVDD can potentially be a devastating disease, several owners have reported improvement in their dog after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy including Bella and Bailee.

If you think your dog may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, even if he/she is not suffering form an orthopedic condition, we recommend speaking to your veterinarian or contacting us to find VetStem providers near you.

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Aug 20, 2021

National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day

Posted by Bob under Cats, Veterinary Medicine

Hello fellow cat lovers! Did you know August 22nd is National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day? This is a day to remind cat owners of the importance of routine check-ups and the perfect opportunity to schedule your cat’s routine exam if needed! Of course, most of us know that taking some cats to the vet can be a stressful experience for both cat and owner alike. Thus, we would like to share some helpful information about ways to potentially reduce stress leading up to your cat’s exam and also ways in which to prepare.

Cat Ownership and Veterinary Visits in the U.S.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), in 2017-2018 over 25% of the households in the United States owned cats. With over 30 million households owning an average of 1.8 cats, that means there were nearly 60 million family cats in the United States at the time of the AVMA’s pet ownership survey. That is a lot of cats! That being said, additional statistics from the AVMA indicate that dogs in the United States visit veterinarians more frequently than cats. There are likely a number of reasons for this, one of which may be related to the stress on your cat when visiting the vet.

Ways to Reduce Stress When Taking Your Cat to the Vet

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has provided some helpful information to help both cat owners and cats be more prepared and feel less anxious about vet visits. The AAFP lists five ways to reduce stress when taking your cat to the vet. The first is carrier acclimation. Rather than storing the carrier in the back of your closet, keep it out in an area where your cat spends a lot of time. Add familiar bedding and toys and cover it with a blanket or towel. This will let your cat know the carrier doesn’t have to be a scary place and can actually be comfortable!

Other methods to reduce stress on your cat involve food. The AAFP states that withholding food from your cat for several hours before traveling can help to avoid motion sickness. That being said, you should consider consulting with your vet before withholding food from elderly or sick cats. On the flip side, you can bring your cats favorite treats along and use these as a reward or distraction to help reduce any stress your cat may experience at the vet. Bringing along some of your cat’s favorite toys or familiar bedding can also help your cat feel more comfortable.

There is also the option of anti-anxiety medication. While this shouldn’t be a first resort for all cats, some cats may never feel comfortable at the vet, no matter how many treats and toys you provide. Speak to your veterinarian if you think your cat may benefit from anti-anxiety medication when going in for a check-up.

Ways to Prepare for Your Cat’s Vet Visit

One important way to prepare for your cat’s vet visit is actually stated above: leave the carrier out with familiar bedding and toys. While it may take some time for your cat to become comfortable with the carrier, it can make getting your cat into the carrier easier when the time comes to leave for the vet. Another way to prepare is to jot down any questions or concerns you have regarding your cat. This will help to expedite the visit and will also help you not forget anything when speaking to the vet. Additionally, it may be helpful to compile and bring any previous medical records for your cat.

For more helpful tips from AAFP, visit their website.

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Aug 13, 2021

Pet Rehabilitation Following VetStem Cell Therapy

Physical therapy (PT) and rehabilitation for pets is a fast-growing field of study and practice. It used to be that animals who experienced musculoskeletal or neurologic diseases and injuries either received surgical treatment or medical management and that’s it. Physical therapy and rehabilitation have been long established in the human medical field for treatment of a variety of conditions because of the proven benefits including improving strength, increasing mobility/range of motion, increasing flexibility, improving circulation, and reducing pain. The ultimate goal of PT and rehab is to bring an individual back to optimal function. We have realized through human medicine and through the use of animals as models for human therapy, that these concepts apply to non-human animals as well.

VetStem patient, Koda, getting his PT in an underwater treadmill.

The veterinary profession has really embraced pet PT and rehabilitation over the past 20+ years as evidenced by numerous books and research papers and the growing number of professional conferences held on the topic since the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Additionally, the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACVSMR) received full recognition as a specialty within veterinary medicine in 2018. This means that veterinarians who belong to the ACVSMR have undergone 4 additional years of training after veterinary school and passed a board-certification exam to become a recognized specialist within this field.

It may surprise you to learn that veterinary PT and rehabilitation has come so far that it isn’t limited to heat/cold therapy and hands-on body manipulations such as range of motion or stretching exercises, but also employs a wide variety of more complex methods like laser therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, treadmill walking, electrical nerve stimulation, pulsed magnetic field therapy, obstacle course work, and shockwave therapy. Pretty cool, right?

Now, you may not have local access to veterinary rehab specialists, but that doesn’t mean that your pet’s access to rehabilitation is limited. The veterinarians that utilize VetStem’s products and services have a number of resources at their disposal including individual case consultation with our Safety and Technical Services Veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert, as well as access to our home-care rehab instructions and our recommendations for veterinary rehab books and articles.

At VetStem, we believe strongly in the power and necessity of physical rehabilitation following injury and following VetStem Cell Therapy to accelerate recovery, restore function, and prevent reinjury. As such, we have rehabilitation guidelines set forth following cell therapy injections for orthopedic conditions. As always, you should never start a program without consulting with your pet’s veterinarian. Dr. Vibert is always happy to collaborate with your VetStem care provider, but only you and your vet can tailor a program specific to your pet’s needs and abilities because ultimately, it is you and your veterinarian who know your pet best.

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