Jan 21, 2022

How Obesity Affects Osteoarthritis in Pets

This week is Healthy Weight Week. And while this is technically a human “holiday,” it can certainly be applied to pets as well! It should come as no surprise that keeping our pets at a healthy weight comes with multiple health benefits. One of these benefits is the potential to reduce the symptoms or delay the onset of osteoarthritis. A healthy weight may lead to healthier joints!

A Rise in Obesity Rates

Just like people, pets have seen a significant increase in obesity rates in the past 10 years. According to a report conducted by Banfield, 1 out of 3 cats and dogs in the United States is overweight. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the rise in pet obesity rates. These include lack of exercise, genetics, misconceptions about what is considered overweight, specific diseases, as well as overfeeding.

Obesity and Osteoarthritis

As you probably know, obesity increases the risk of developing or exacerbating several serious diseases. One of these diseases is osteoarthritis (OA). Unfortunately, the number of pets with OA is increasing right along with the obesity rates. Joint discomfort from OA can lead to a reduction in activity levels, which can then lead to weight gain and more stress on the joints. It’s a vicious cycle!

Help your Pet Lose Weight to Reduce the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis  

The good news is weight loss may contribute to a reduction in osteoarthritis symptoms. There are several ways you can help your pet lose weight. One method is physical activity. As we discussed in a previous blog, regular exercise comes with a number of benefits including weight loss. A simple exercise like walking can also strengthen muscles and support joint health by improving joint fluid circulation. Your veterinarian is a key resource to help get your pet to a healthy weight.

As always, if your pet has osteoarthritis and you’re curious about treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

Share
Jan 14, 2022

VetStem Helps Search and Rescue K9 Return to Work

Yana is a Search and Rescue K9 with a high drive to work. Unfortunately, she injured her iliopsoas, a group of muscles that function to externally rotate and flex the hip joint, similar to the hip flexor in people. These muscles are connected to the femur via a common tendon. Iliopsoas injuries most frequently occur at or near the muscle-tendon junction, which is referred to as “the weak link.”

After several weeks and three misdiagnoses, Yana was taken to a board-certified surgeon and experienced VetStem user, Dr. Kim Carlson. Dr. Carlson used ultrasound to diagnose Yana with a grade 2, or partial, iliopsoas tear and recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.

Yana

Fat tissue was extracted from Yana’s abdomen during a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure and overnighted to our laboratory. From there, VetStem lab technicians isolated Yana’s stem and regenerative cells from her fat tissue. These cells were divided into doses, and two stem cell injections were shipped to Dr. Carlson for treatment. Yana received one injection of her own stem cells into her injured iliopsoas and one intravenous injection. The rest of her cells were put into cryopreservation.

According to her owner, the months following Yana’s stem cell treatment were not easy and Yana’s healing process took a bit longer than anticipated because it was difficult to keep her quiet. She had to be kept on leash for almost a year, which is not ideal for a high-drive working dog. Approximately three months after her initial treatment, Yana received a follow up stem cell treatment, identical to her first, utilizing the stem cells that were cryogenically stored from the original fat tissue process.

Fortunately, the difficult rehabilitation process paid off. Dr. Carlson confirmed, via ultrasound, that Yana’s injury was healed, and Yana was able to get back to her very important work. Her owner stated, “It was a very difficult year for us, but I am very happy to say it was worth it. Yana returned to her work 11 months after injury and is her old, agile self!”

We absolutely love to hear stories about VetStem Cell Therapy helping working animals return to what they love to do. But stem cells can help companion animals too! If you think your pet may benefit from stem cell therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

Share
Jan 7, 2022

January is Walk Your Dog Month: Benefits of Regular Exercise

Welcome back! We hope everyone had a happy and healthy holiday season. It is officially January- one of our favorite months! Did you know that January is recognized as Walk Your Dog Month? This is a great time to discuss the importance of regular, low-impact exercise for our four-legged companions.

Health Benefits of Walking

Walking is a relatively easy, low-impact exercise that comes with several health benefits. Some of the benefits of walking include stopping the loss of bone mass, losing weight, strengthening muscles, and supporting joints by improving joint fluid circulation. Though this is not a comprehensive list of the many benefits of walking, these specific benefits can potentially improve joint health.

Exercising Your Dog

It is safe to assume that these benefits are not only true for people, but for our pets as well. And given that 1 in 5 dogs is diagnosed with osteoarthritis in their lifetime, it is extra important to do everything we can to support their joint health. Fortunately, regular, low-impact exercise, such as walking, has been found to delay the onset of and/or reduce the symptoms of OA in dogs.

When it comes to exercise, each dog has unique needs and capabilities. It is best to speak with your veterinarian, who can help tailor an exercise regimen specific to your dog. That being said, it is generally true that regular, moderate exercise is favored over intermittent, intense exercise. According to Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Regular physical activity is paramount in the treatment of osteoarthritis both in humans and animals. A lifestyle of regular activity that is moderated away from intermittent extremes of exercise (such as long hikes on the weekends) and activities to which the pet is not conditioned is essential. Ideally, multiple shorter walks are better than one long one. The same activity every day (or slightly increasing if tolerated) is ideal.” 

Now that you know the scoop, let’s all take our dogs for a walk this January for Walk Your Dog Month!

Share
Dec 17, 2021

VetStem 2021 Year in Review

Posted by Bob under VetStem

Well, here we are again, at the end of yet another year. This will be our last blog of 2021 since the following two Fridays are a holiday. As we typically do at the end of the year, we wanted to share some highlights from our year. So, without further ado, here is VetStem’s 2021 Year in Review.

  • We started out 2021 with a bang! In January, we announced that we successfully negotiated multiple royalty-bearing patent licensing deals. This means we came to an agreement with several human and veterinary companies to license our patented technology to them for use in their own business model. Read the story here.
  • Shortly thereafter, our human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells (PSC), announced that all the data from their first FDA approved stem cell clinical trial for knee osteoarthritis was collected and submitted to the FDA for review. Later, we announced results of the clinical trial and they were very promising! Keep in mind, Personalized Stem Cells was formed based on VetStem’s 15+ years of stem cell data for veterinary patients.
  • Our human company had more big news when the first patients were treated in the FDA approved COVID-19 stem cell clinical trial that PSC developed and licensed to Sorrento Therapeutics. Just three months later, PSC announced that enrollment was complete for the COVID-19 clinical trial and the preliminary safety and efficacy data was incredibly strong. The development and licensing of this clinical trial was a huge deal for us (both VetStem and PSC) as it brought in revenue and opened the door for potential new stem cell applications.
  • In case you forgot, in late 2020, we launched a contract cell manufacturing business, Performance Cell Manufacturing (PCM). PCM did so well that the decision was made to separate VetStem and PCM, which allowed for a renewed core focus solely on the veterinary side of things.
  • In August, the VetStem Sales and Marketing team attended our first in-person veterinary conference since February of 2020. The VETgirl conference was a fun, small show in Chicago. It was great to get in front of our colleagues again!
Some of the VetStem Sales and Marketing team at WVC 2021
  • The next month, in early September, we were back in Las Vegas for the annual Western Veterinary Conference (WVC). This is one of the biggest shows in the industry and we always enjoy meeting our current and potential future clients at this show.
  • Just a few short weeks later, we were in Phoenix, AZ for the annual American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) conference. We love this show because we get to talk all about cats. This year, VetStem was a bronze sponsor and our CEO, Dr. Harman, delivered an informative lecture about the various uses of VetStem Cell Therapy in cats. (As you may know, there are some exciting uses for VetStem Cell Therapy in felines. You can read about them here.)
  • And to cap off the year, we were excited to announce that we were granted a new stem cell patent that covers treating veterinary and human patients with an adipose-derived stem cell preparation. This specific patent is key in that it broadens the coverage to any disease in any mammal that is treated using VetStem’s methods of preparing the adipose stem cell preparation.

So, there you have it. Another year in the books. It was an exciting year for us and, as always, we couldn’t do what we do without the support of our veterinary and pet owner clients. We hope that you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you back here in 2022!

Share
Dec 10, 2021

Dietary Supplements for Pets and How to Choose Them Wisely

Posted by Bob under Pets, Veterinary Medicine

We have a special guest blog this week from VetStem veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert. Dr. Vibert discusses dietary supplements for animals and how you can educate yourself to pick the best supplements for your pets. Check it out below.

In 2020, the global value of the human dietary supplement industry was estimated at $170.4 billion with the US market making up $46 billion of that value. Pet markets often follow closely behind the trends of human markets, so it’s no surprise that US pet owners spent $800 million on pet supplements in 2020 (a 21% increase in sales from 2019). It’s a booming industry but it can also be very confusing for pet parents when it comes to not only understanding what dietary supplements are (and what they are not) but also choosing ones that are safe and effective. We are bombarded every day with the marketing of pet products, and unfortunately, when it comes to supplements, good marketing tactics often win over good science.

First, dietary supplements are just that, supplemental. Meaning, that as long as your pet is eating a nutritionally balanced diet, and is overall healthy, there is no need to supplement their diet with vitamins, minerals, herbs, or system-supportive products (e.g., joint support, skin support). Not only is there not a need to supplement but doing so can actually be harmful. However, if your pet has a medical condition, supplements may be beneficial.

Being that dietary supplements, sometimes referred to as “nutraceuticals”, are not considered to be food, food additives, or drugs, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Meaning there is no review of product safety, efficacy, or quality control (i.e., making sure each and every pill in every single bottle contains what the label says it contains). One might think that just requiring FDA approval for supplements would un-muddy the waters and make the world a safer place. However, the process for each new drug application can take years for approval and costs thousands to millions of dollars for the manufacturers which can increase the cost to the consumer. The FDA only gets involved if there is proof that a dietary supplement is unsafe. And I’m just talking about human supplements- pet-specific supplements receive even less governance. So, educating yourself is the best way to find safe and effective products.

The best way to educate yourself about pet supplements is to start with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian has the education and training to help you decide if your pet would benefit from a supplement and which supplements are backed by proven safety and efficacy studies. There is surprisingly little proven data out there for humans or animals regarding the effectiveness of most nutraceuticals. Your veterinarian can also tell you whether a supplement could negatively interact with other medications that your pet is taking. Just because a product is marketed as “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe for your pet.

After speaking with your veterinarian, it’s a good idea to do some of your own homework as well so you can continue to have a well-informed dialogue about keeping your pet safe, happy, and healthy. Click here to read a great article from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on pet supplements and links below to the US Pharmacopeia (USP) and Consumerlab.com for information about product testing for verification of safety and quality control of specific products.

USP Verification Services | USP

Independent Tests and Reviews of Vitamin, Mineral, and Herbal Supplements | ConsumerLab.com

Share
Dec 3, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy for Cats

It’s that time of year again: National Cat Lovers’ Month! And as always, we’re going to take this opportunity to tell you all about VetStem Cell Therapy for cats. While dogs and horses are most commonly treated for orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis or injured tendons and ligaments, cats more often than not receive VetStem Cell Therapy for other diseases.

Feline Renal Disease

Nearly 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease. A common disease in cats, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a frequent cause of sickness and death in cats. In fact, some reviews suggest that CKD may be the number one cause of sickness and death in older cats. Unfortunately, treatment options are limited and can be costly.

Based upon data from the numerous cats treated with VetStem Cell Therapy, we believe that stem cells may help improve the symptoms and quality of life in some cats with CKD. In fact, a review of a small number of feline patients treated with VetStem Cell Therapy showed that blood kidney values were slightly to moderately improved after treatment. More data is necessary however and we continue to research stem cell therapy for this disease as part of our clinical research department.

Gingivostomatitis

Another potentially debilitating condition is gingivostomatitis. This disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of the affected cat’s gums. It can be very painful and lead to inappetence, reduce grooming, and weight loss. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. Common treatments include lifelong medical management with antibiotics, steroids, and pain medications and/or full mouth teeth extractions.

Current literature supports the notion that gingivostomatitis is an autoimmune disease. Mesenchymal stem cells have demonstrated the ability to migrate to areas of inflammation, down-regulate inflammation, modulate the immune system, and repair damaged tissue. Additionally, a recent clinical study demonstrated that intravenous administration of adipose (fat) derived stem cells could ameliorate the clinical signs of gingivostomatitis. While more research is needed, preliminary results suggest that VetStem Cell Therapy can improve the symptoms of some cats with gingivostomatitis.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a gastrointestinal disease that can affect both cats and dogs. It is characterized by inflammation of the intestines and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and weight loss. It is important to note however, that these symptoms can be indicative of several conditions including feline lymphoma. Since VetStem Cell Therapy is contraindicated in pets with cancer, it is essential to rule this out before pursuing treatment with stem cells.

Multiple cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD (dogs too!). And we have had reports from veterinarians and owners regarding the improvement of their patients and pets after treatment with stem cells. As stated above, stem cells migrate to areas of inflammation, down-regulate inflammation, modulate the immune system, and repair damaged tissue, all of which can contribute to healing inflamed and diseased intestines. Additionally, in a recently published paper, 5 out of 7 IBD cats that were treated with stem cells significantly improved or had complete resolution of symptoms, whereas the 4 control cats had no improvement.

Orthopedic Conditions

Let’s not forget that cats can get arthritis too! Osteoarthritis (OA) in cats is a lot more common than you may think. It is estimated that 45% of all cats and 90% of cats over age 10 are affected by arthritis in some way. Unfortunately, cats can be masters at hiding their pain and thus, feline arthritis tends to go undiagnosed.

Though most of our osteoarthritis data is from dogs, cats have experienced similar results when treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. Stem cells may reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and may lead to the regeneration of damaged joint tissues. This can result in increased mobility and a better quality of life for your kitty.

So, there you have it: VetStem Cell Therapy for cats in a nutshell. It’s important to remember that kidney disease, gingivostomatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease are still in the investigational stages. And as with any medical treatment, not all cats will respond positively. That being said, if you think your cat may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

Share
Nov 19, 2021

Exercise With Your Dog on National Take a Hike Day

Posted by Bob under Dog Ownership, Exercise For Pets

This past Wednesday, November 17th, was National Take a Hike Day. This annual event encourages us to get outside to take a hike for some exercise and fresh air. But this doesn’t just apply to people. Dogs can benefit from hiking too!

Exercise Provides Health Benefits

As we discussed in previous blogs, providing regular exercise for our pets comes with an array of health benefits. In dogs, regular, low-impact exercise can be a good way to potentially delay the onset of osteoarthritis or reduce the symptoms of existing osteoarthritis. We frequently talk about walking your dog as a means to maintain or reduce his/her weight as well as to lubricate joints and strengthen muscles. Hiking can be a good way to mix up your regular walks around the neighborhood.

Hiking With Your Dog

While hiking can be fun and beneficial for both dog and owner, it is best to check with your veterinarian before embarking on any major hikes. Experts agree that regular, short-interval exercise is key, as opposed to doing one big activity on the weekends, such as a long or strenuous hike. That being said, there are many hiking trails that are shorter and less strenuous. It’s a good idea to do your research to find a hike suited to your dog’s athletic ability.

Dr. Harman’s border collie, Ben, on the trail.

Advice from an Experienced Hiker

Our own founder and CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, is an avid hiker. His border collie, Ben, frequently accompanies him on hikes and serves as his hearing assistance dog. While Dr. Harman and Ben are very experienced hikers and sometimes spend several days in the mountains, Dr. Harman has advice for hikers of all levels: Choose your trail and map out your hike before you leave the house. This will ensure you know what to expect on your hike so you can prepare yourself and your dog accordingly. Always make sure to pack enough water and a snack or two for both yourself and your canine companion. Keep an eye out for signs of fatigue, dehydration, or discomfort in your dog. If you notice any concerning signs, it may be best to turn back before finishing the hike. You can always try again another day!

Share
Nov 12, 2021

VetStem Issued New Patent

Posted by Bob under Stem Cell Therapy, VetStem

VetStem is happy to announce that we were recently issued a new patent that covers treating veterinary and human patients with an adipose-derived stem cell preparation. From the beginning, VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, has invested heavily in patent protection of the technology we are developing. He believes it is a crucial way to strengthen the company’s intellectual property in the rapidly developing field of regenerative medicine.

Though we have a large portfolio of patents, this specific patent is key in that it broadens the coverage to any disease in any mammal that is treated using VetStem’s methods of preparing the adipose stem cell preparation. The preparation methods include processing using mechanical, enzymatic, and/or ultrasonic energy. The disease coverage is broad including inflammatory diseases or disorders, cardiovascular diseases, nervous system diseases, tumors, demyelinating diseases, digestive system diseases, endocrine system diseases, reproductive system diseases, hemic and lymphatic diseases, immunological diseases, mental disorders, musculoskeletal diseases, neuromuscular diseases, metabolic diseases, skin and connective tissue diseases, urological diseases, and wounds.

In an effort to build mutually beneficial relationships with other regenerative medicine companies, we have successfully negotiated royalty-bearing licenses with multiple human and veterinary stem cell companies. One of these companies is our own human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells (PSC). PSC licenses our patent portfolio for use in their own stem cell clinical trials.

VetStem was the first company to provide adipose-derived stem cell services to veterinarians in the United States and Canada and has provided those services for over 20,000 animal patients. We strive to stay at the forefront of this ever-developing field and continue to research new uses for which stem cells may be beneficial. A few of our current clinical research programs include feline renal disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and canine back pain. If you think your pet may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to find a VetStem provider near you.

Share
Nov 5, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy Helps Senior Pets Too

Posted by Bob under Pets, VetStem Cell Therapy

November is National Senior Pet Month. According to the AVMA, cats and small dogs are generally considered seniors at the age of seven. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter lifespans and are considered seniors around five to six years of age. Like people, an older pet is more likely to develop diseases such as heart, kidney, and liver disease as well as cancer and osteoarthritis (OA).

Will VetStem Cell Therapy Help My Senior Pet?

We are often asked whether VetStem Cell Therapy will help senior pets. Generally speaking, younger stem cells tend to be healthier and therefore may be more efficient at performing their various jobs. That being said, many senior pets have been treated with VetStem Cell Therapy and have experienced great results.

One example is Molly, a Labrador who received VetStem Cell Therapy when she was approximately twelve and a half years old. Molly had severe OA and a potential spinal condition that made her suddenly unable to walk or support herself. Her owners elected to have Molly treated with VetStem Cell Therapy and were very pleased with the results. Just two weeks after her stem cell injections, Molly was able to support her own weight with assistance. At her one-month recheck appointment, Molly was able to take a few steps. And just shy of two months post-stem cell therapy, Molly was walking on her own again. Her owner stated, “She is walking again on her own and without assistance, and she is definitely limping less on that front elbow. While we do realize at her age and the severity of arthritis in her joints that she won’t be a puppy again, I would definitely expect her to continue to improve and continue to be mobile. I would do this again for her in a heartbeat, and we are so thankful this technology exists. Thank you, VetStem, for giving us back our happy girl.”

VetStem Cell Therapy for Alternative Conditions in Seniors

As stated above, senior pets are more prone to organ diseases such as kidney failure. Fortunately, VetStem Cell Therapy may help with that too! Many patients, mostly cats but some dogs as well, have received stem cell therapy for kidney disease.

One such patient was a senior cat named Trinity. Trinity was twelve years old when she was diagnosed with renal disease. She had several symptoms including vomiting, not eating, lethargy, weakness, and weight loss. Additionally, she was uninterested and spent a lot of time hiding. Several months after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, Trinity’s bloodwork showed no signs of kidney disease. She started eating again and gained back all the weight she had lost. Her owner stated, “I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to spend so many more years with Trinity.”

So, as you can see, VetStem Cell Therapy isn’t just for young pets. Senior pets have benefitted from stem cell therapy too! If you think your senior pet may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian, or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

Share
Oct 29, 2021

Cats Are Not Small Dogs: Understanding the Differences

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Cats, Pets, Veterinary Medicine

Today is National Cat Day! And we never miss an opportunity to discuss felines! Check out our latest blog from VetStem veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert.

I think we are all pretty aware that cats and dogs are different in many ways. Dogs tend to be pleasers and cats often make their humans work for their trust and respect. Dogs don’t really care if they are dirty or have something stuck in their fur, but cats on the other hand, cannot stand to be soiled in any way and will work fastidiously to keep themselves clean. And if a dog is caught counter-surfing for the sandwich that someone left unattended, he will cower when he is admonished. Cats will look at you as if to say, “So?” and quickly scurry away with a piece of ham in their mouth. Of course, there are exceptions, but in my experience, these characteristics are more often the rule than the exception.

Beyond their unique personality differences, however, there are several physical and psychological differences that are important to understand when approaching each species from a caregiving standpoint. For example, dogs have a ligament in their neck that  helps to keep the head erect if the neck muscles are weak. Cats lack this ligament, so when they experience illnesses that cause profound muscle weakness such as hypokalemia (low potassium) or advanced stages of kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism, they may become unable to lift their head.

Another example of how cats and dogs differ is with respect to their nutritional needs. We know that every species of animal on the planet consumes different kinds of foods to sustain their bodies. But many people don’t realize that cats and dogs have such significant differences that feeding a cat only dog food can cause heart disease and even death. One of the reasons for this is because cats have different essential amino acid needs. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. An amino acid is termed “essential” to a species when that species needs to consume the amino acid through their food in order to survive. Taurine is essential for cats and not as much for dogs, meaning that dogs produce enough of it in their bodies that they really don’t need as much in their food. So high-quality, well-established, commercial cat foods are specifically designed to provide the correct amount of taurine to keep cats healthy.

Furthermore, cats metabolize certain drugs very differently than dogs. For instance, did you know that although dogs can safely be prescribed low doses of Tylenol (acetaminophen), a single regular strength tablet can kill a cat? Both dogs and cats have a limited ability to metabolize this drug compared to humans, but cats have a really limited capacity and it will render their red blood cells unable to carry enough oxygen to live.

Cats also have unique needs when it comes to their surroundings. They have natural instincts to chase prey, climb and perch off the ground, control their own personal space, and use scent to establish their boundaries by rubbing their faces along people or items in their home. If these environmental needs are not met, not only will cats experience high levels of stress, but they can also develop stress-induced medical issues.

VetStem recognizes and embraces the fact that cats are not small dogs. We understand that cats not only have diseases unique to them such as Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS), but they also exhibit symptoms of illness very differently than dogs do. In particular, cats are particularly adept at hiding pain. This is why many cats go undiagnosed for common painful conditions such as degenerative joint disease (DJD). We encourage you to speak to your family veterinarian about establishing regular veterinary checkups for your beloved cat companions to keep them happy and healthy through all stages of life.

Share