Sep 20, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Pain Specialist Dr. Douglas Stramel

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

As we shared last week, September is proclaimed as Animal Pain Awareness Month by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM).  Keeping with our theme of pain awareness, we would like to introduce you to veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner, Dr. Douglas Stramel of Advanced Care Veterinary Services in Carrollton, Texas.  Dr Stramel is the first and only Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and is also the President-Elect of IVAPM.

As the President of IVAPM, Dr. Stramel takes pain management very seriously and has made it a primary focus of his veterinary practice.  He employs advanced multi-modal pain management protocols including physical therapy, acupuncture, shock wave, laser therapy, and, you guessed it, regenerative medicine.

Dr. Stramel has been credentialed to perform VetStem Cell Therapy since 2007.  He is also an experienced user of Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET™).  One of his patients, a Great Dane named Pinky, received V-PET™ for a ruptured cruciate ligament last Summer.  After treatment, she was able to resume her daily walks and normal activities.  You can read Pinky’s story here.

We recently caught up with Dr. Stramel to ask him a few questions about his practice and pain awareness.  See his answers below.

What does it mean to be a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner?

This certification indicates that someone successfully completed advanced training in pain management.  Certification holders demonstrate an advanced knowledge in assessing, diagnosing and treating painful conditions in animals. The certificate is made possible through the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) to both doctors and technicians.


How do you incorporate the use of regenerative medicine (stem cells and/or platelet therapy) into your pain practice?

In my practice, we have used regenerative medicine in many different cases, such as cruciate ligament injuries, arthritic joints, inflamed tendons and spinal injuries.  The most common use at this point in time is part of a treatment plan for cruciate ligament injuries.  We have even used Stem Cell Therapy to help reduce skin allergies.


Why is pet pain awareness so important?

Today’s pet owner is looking for alternatives to “just giving a pill” or to “surgery”.  Veterinary medicine has made some great advancements in the last 10 years and we now have the ability to help many different painful conditions that we struggled with in the past.  Client’s pets are living longer and are part of the family, they want their pets to live pain-free lives as they are living longer.  Our clients are realizing that “acting old” is not a real diagnosis and that a pet that “acts old” is really painful and they want more than just a pill to help their furry family member out.  This goes beyond the “typical” pet and includes horses, exotics, pocket pets and farm animals as well.  Through IVAPM we are advocating for best practices in the treatment of animals in pain and have selected September as Animal Pain Awareness month to correspond with Human Pain Awareness Month.

If you’re looking for a veterinary pain specialist and are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, check out Dr. Stramel.  And thank you, Dr. Stramel, for taking the time to answer our questions!

Tune in next week as we continue our pain awareness theme to learn some of the signs and symptoms that may indicate your pet is in pain.

Dr. Douglas Stramel
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Sep 13, 2019

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

Now that it’s September, we thought it appropriate to mention that September is proclaimed as Animal Pain Awareness Month by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM).  One goal of the IVAPM is to “educate and inform pet owners about their pet’s health and well-being when it comes to pain management.”

Pain in pets can be acute or chronic and can stem from many causes including acute surgical pain or pain from a chronic disease such as osteoarthritis.  There are three primary classifications of pain: 1. Nociceptive – caused by noxious stimulation (injury/physical damage, exposure to chemicals or exposure to extreme temperatures), 2. Inflammatory – caused by acute or chronic inflammation, and 3. Neuropathic – from damage to an element of the nervous system.  Pain management is an important component of veterinary medicine to ensure pets maintain a good quality of life.  There are many forms of pain management including medication, rehabilitation, and of course stem cell therapy.

We frequently discuss how stem cells can reduce inflammation and help to heal joint tissues, thereby leading to less pain and increased comfort.  But as we know, stem cells have multiple modes of action and the current literature supports that stem cells have the ability to address both acute and chronic pain.  More recently, have there been studies to evaluate stem cells’ direct effects on modulating pain.  Stem cells have shown to have pain blocking cytokines (small, secreted proteins), which can have opioid-like effects.  Stem cells have also shown the ability to reduce neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nervous tissue).  Thus, stem cells have the ability to address the three primary types of pain described above.

In the coming weeks, we will share information about how to tell if your dog or cat is in pain.  We will also introduce you to a VetStem user and Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner.  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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Sep 6, 2019

Newfie Avoids Elbow Surgery with VetStem Cell Therapy

Harper is a four-year-old Landseer Newfoundland.  When she started limping at around three years of age, her owners became concerned and took her to the veterinarian.  It was determined that Harper had severe elbow dysplasia, which caused painful osteoarthritis in her elbows.  Harper’s veterinarian recommend surgery and referred her to a specialist.

Fortunately for Harper and her parents, that specialist was VetStem proponent Dr. Christopher Eich of Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital.  Dr. Eich recommended VetStem Cell Therapy in lieu of surgery.

Harper received stem cell injections in both of her elbows in October 2018.  Her owners reported that within three months, she was back to her daily walks and was even running around on the grass and at the beach!  You can read the rest of Harper’s story here.

We recently checked in on Harper and her owner reported that Harper is still doing great!  He stated, “She has had a busy Summer of road trips and making appearances at various festivals and events.  Attached is a photo of her from Special Olympics So Cal, where she greeted the athletes and took photos with them for a book.  Everyone we meet that we share her stem cell story with have all been amazed with how well she is doing!”  You can keep up with Harper and her buddies on their Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/ventures.of.harper.finn.bodhi/

If your dog has osteoarthritis caused by joint dysplasia, VetStem Cell Therapy may be a treatment option.  Speak to your veterinarian to determine if your dog is a candidate for stem cell therapy.  Or you can contact us to receive a list of VetStem credentialed veterinarians in your area.

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Aug 30, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Kim Carlson, DVM, DACVS

Posted by Bob under Cat Stem Cells, Dog Stem Cells

This week, we would like to introduce you to one of VetStem’s most prolific users: Dr. Kim Carlson. Dr. Carlson practices in the Bay Area of California and recently opened her new surgical practice North Peninsula Veterinary Surgical Group in San Mateo, CA.  Dr. Carlson is a board-certified surgeon with a special interest in orthopedic surgery, oncologic surgery, trauma and wound management.

Dr. Carlson became credentialed to perform VetStem Cell Therapy in 2007 and has provided VetStem services for over 200 patients since!  Dr. Carlson also uses the Pall Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy kit.  We asked Dr. Carlson a few questions about her use of VetStem Cell Therapy.  See her answers below.

Many of your stem cell patients receive VetStem Cell Therapy in conjunction with orthopedic surgery.  Do you recommend stem cell therapy with all of your orthopedic surgeries?  If so, why? 

Yes, I do.  Because of the regenerative power of stem cells.  Most patients having orthopedic surgery have some degree of OA or soft tissue injury.  The benefit of stem cell therapy is faster healing, more normal healing, decreased pain, reduced development of OA.  Stem cells have the ability to treat injuries and return patients to full function that didn’t have a good prognosis with traditional options.  Not only do I recommend stem cell therapy for my orthopedic patients but I also recommend stem cell therapy for my patients who are being treated with skin grafts or other wound treatments.

Please explain why VetStem is your go-to stem cell provider. 

Simple.  Quality control.

You have provided VetStem services for well over 200 patients.  What advice can you offer to pet parents who are considering stem cell therapy for their pet? 

It’s a great option.  I’ve treated two of my own pets.  If you don’t have pet insurance look into obtaining pet insurance that will cover stem cell therapy should you need it for your pet.  Not only can stem cells help your pet with their current injury but their cells will be banked for any potential future treatments.

If you’re located in the Bay Area and are considering stem cell therapy for your pet, Dr. Kim Carlson is a very experienced and knowledgeable surgeon and VetStem provider.

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Aug 23, 2019

Is Your Pet Overweight?

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis, Pet Obesity

In previous blog posts, we discussed risk factors for osteoarthritis and how to reduce or delay the onset of osteoarthritis.  In both of those posts, we mentioned that a pet being overweight may contribute to his/her development of osteoarthritis. 

Unfortunately, it is estimated that approximately 56% of dogs and 60% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese.  But how can you tell if your pet is overweight?  Below are some tools to help you determine if your pet is overweight.

One way to tell if your pet is overweight is to determine your pet’s body condition score.  You can look this up online and find pictures of what your pet’s ideal body should look like.  Below is an example of a body score chart for dogs and cats.  What score does your pet receive?  If you’re not sure, your veterinarian can help to determine your pet’s body condition score.

Notice in the chart above, the pictures show the view of dogs and cats from the top.  Looking at your pet from above can be a helpful way to determine if your pet is overweight.  Like the chart above says, you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs but not see them.  There should be a slight layer of fat over your pet’s ribs.  Your pet should also taper at their waist- a bit like an hourglass shape.

Another sign that your pet is overweight is reduced stamina or increased lethargy.  Is your dog panting more or not able to walk as far?  Is your cat unable to jump up on furniture?  Note that these signs can also indicate other, more serious conditions so if you’re concerned about your pet’s behavior, take him/her to the vet.

Nobody wants to be told that their pet is overweight.  But it puts your pet at risk of many diseases so it should not be ignored.  In addition to osteoarthritis, obesity can lead to serious health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Alternatively, your pet may be obese as a result of a health problem such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. 

If you believe your pet may be overweight, a visit to the veterinarian is probably in order.  Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure your pet maintains an ideal weight or to help your pet lose weight.  Your vet can rule out underlying diseases and also help you establish a nutritionally sound diet as well as an exercise routine that is appropriate for your buddy.

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Aug 16, 2019

Stem Cells for Immune Mediated Polyarthritis

In previous blogs, we have discussed stem cell therapy for non-standard indications, or what we call “compassionate use” cases.  These are cases where there is limited data to show that stem cell therapy is effective however what results we do have, may look promising.  Examples include kidney disease, canine back pain, as well as several other diseases/conditions for which stem cells may be beneficial.  One such indication is Immune Mediated Polyarthritis, or IMPA for short. 

While IMPA is a form of arthritis, it is not the typical osteoarthritis that stem cells are used for regularly.  Rather than being caused by a malformed joint, wear and tear or trauma, IMPA is caused by the patient’s own immune system.  It is important to note that polyarthritis can be caused by an infection in the patient’s body.  Distinguishing between an infection and IMPA is imperative because treatment options are very different.  In this blog, we will discuss stem cell therapy for the treatment of IMPA.

In patients with IMPA, the immune system creates an inflammatory response and inappropriately sends white blood cells to the joints.  This in turn causes inflammation, pain, swelling, and difficulty waking.  The reason it is called “Polyarthritis” is because many of the joints may be affected in patients with IMPA.  While this condition is more common in dogs, it can affect cats as well.  IMPA is similar to Rheumatoid arthritis in humans.

Immune mediated diseases can be some of the most challenging cases for veterinarians to treat.  There are few therapeutic options when it comes to regulating an aberrant immune system.  Common treatment options include immunosuppression, often with steroids.  As most of you know, steroid use comes with several negative side effects and is not ideal for long-term use in dogs and cats.

So how may VetStem Cell Therapy help?  Well, we know that stem cells play a key role in not only managing pain but also in down-regulating inflammation.  Perhaps most importantly for these cases, stem cells have demonstrated immunomodulatory characteristics and the ability to help balance a patient’s immune system.  The study of stem cells for immune mediated diseases in both animals and humans is ongoing. 

IMPA is not the only immune mediated disease being treated with stem cells, however.  Veterinarians have utilized VetStem Cell Therapy to treat an array of immune mediated diseases, and we continue to gather data and monitor patient outcomes.  Some additional examples of immune mediated diseases that veterinarians are treating with VetStem Cell Therapy include canine dry eye, inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats, as well as feline chronic gingivostomatitis.

If your dog or cat is suffering from IMPA or another immune mediated disease, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.  Or you can contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Aug 9, 2019

More News from VetStem’s Human Stem Cell Company

Posted by Bob under Human Stem Cells

As we shared in a recent blog, VetStem launched a human stem cell company known as Personalized Stem Cells, Inc (PSC) in late 2018.  PSC was founded to advance and legitimize human regenerative medicine through FDA approved clinical trials.  As such, it was announced in June that PSC submitted their first FDA-IND (“Investigational New Drug”) application for the treatment of osteoarthritis, with the first clinical trial to be for patients with OA in the knee.

In less than one year since the company’s formation, PSC recently announced that their application was approved for conducting clinical trials for the treatment of osteoarthritis using stem cells.  The fast approval was in large part due to VetStem’s extensive experience and data from stem cell therapy in the veterinary field.

This is the first of several planned INDs that PSC will seek FDA approval for.  Similar to the VetStem model, they plan to start with orthopedic conditions and eventually expand to include other medical conditions.  Like VetStem, PSC will follow strict quality control and safety protocols.

For the first clinical trial, PSC has enrolled a limited number of clinical sites around the U.S. to provide treatment for knee osteoarthritis using stem cells. The enrolled physicians are among the most experienced stem cell physicians in the country.  You can contact PSC for clinical trial information, clinical trial site locations, or investment information.

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Aug 2, 2019

Tips to Help Reduce or Delay Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects approximately one quarter of the dog population.  OA is a chronic disease that is characterized by cartilage loss and bone changes in the affected joint(s).  Symptoms include painful joints and decreased or limited mobility.  While certain breeds of dogs, usually larger breed dogs, may be predisposed to developing OA, all dogs are at risk for developing this chronic condition.

Developing good habits early on may help to delay the onset of OA or may reduce the severity of the disease.  Below we have highlighted some general steps you can take to help prevent OA in your dog.  But remember, we advise that you first consult with your veterinarian to get a preventative plan tailored specifically to your dog.

Which brings us to our first step: regular veterinary visits.  Taking your dog to your vet for regular checkups may help to identify conditions that could lead to arthritis as well as identify arthritis early on in the disease process.  Your vet may be able to spot some of the earliest signs of OA even if your dog has not shown any typical symptoms such as limping or decreased mobility.  Early detection and treatment may help reduce the severity of damage to the joint(s).

Your veterinarian may also recommend a nutritionally sound diet for a slower rate of growth and joint supplements.  Joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin can help to slow the loss of cartilage, the tissue that cushions your dog’s joints.  Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation in the body.  It is best to speak to your veterinarian to determine which supplements and/or diet will be best for your dog. 

Exercise can also play an important role in reducing wear and tear on your dog’s joints.  Various breeds of dogs require different amounts and different types of exercise.  Work with your veterinarian to develop an exercise routine that is tailored to your dog.  By exercising your dog in the appropriate manner, you may be keeping them lean and building muscle which can help support their joints.

Keeping your dog at an ideal weight is essential in minimizing the wear and tear on your dog’s joints.  Like people, a dog’s body is not designed to carry too much extra weight.  When a dog is overweight, they are more likely to develop OA.  Speak with your veterinarian to develop a good nutritional plan for your dog to help maintain a healthy weight. If your dog has already been diagnosed with OA, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of VetStem Cell Therapy.  Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Jul 26, 2019

Horse Returns to Work After Partial Ligament Tear

Atlas is a large Quarter Horse that keeps busy with drill team, barrel racing, jumping, cow work, and trail riding.  So, you can imagine how devastating it was for both Atlas and his owner when he partially tore his right front suspensory ligament and was only able to walk.  Fortunately, his veterinarian, Dr. Colter Negranti of Paso Robles Equine, recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.

After stem cell therapy, Atlas underwent months of rehab.  Once he was feeling better, he began working again and, according to his owner, he stayed as sound as ever.  You can catch up on Atlas’ story here.

We recently checked in on Atlas and his owner reported that he continues to do great!  He participated in a barrel race in June and his owner stated, “The race went really well (it was our first multiple day outing) and we won some money!  Now we’re getting ready for finals, plus lots of trail riding since the summer weather has been so great!”  See a picture of Atlas from the race below.

As many horse owners know, working horses tend to be at a higher risk for injuries.  Some injuries may affect the long-term career of the horse.  VetStem Cell Therapy has helped several horses return to work (and even win championships!) after potentially career-ending injuries including CP Merritt, Anthony, and AR River Playboy.  If your horse has suffered an injury, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.   

Atlas at his recent race
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Jul 19, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Cindy Echevarria, DVM

This week we would like to introduce you to VetStem proponent, Dr. Cindy Echevarria of VCA University Animal Hospital in Dallas.  Dr. Echevarria has been utilizing VetStem Cell Therapy since early 2015 and has treated nearly 40 patients, including her own dog, Bella.  Dr. Echevarria also treated Stuart, the Lab with a soft tissue injury and Seve, a Golden Retriever with osteoarthritis in his hips.

We recently caught up with Dr. Echevarria to ask her some questions about how she utilizes VetStem Cell Therapy.  See her answers below.

At what point in the process do you recommend stem cell therapy for your patients (ie, when the injury/ailment is first diagnosed, after meds have proven unsuccessful/detrimental, etc.)

I usually recommend stem cell for all orthopedic injury cases, particularly ACL tears, and arthritic cases.  For cruciate injuries I find combining the TPLO or repair surgery with the collection part of the stem cell process to be easy on the pet and the owner since the recovery process goes unchanged.  Anything that does not inconvenience the owner further but helps the pet makes it easier to relay the benefits to the owner.  Since aftercare alone is a lot to take on for each procedure alone, being able to manage both at the same time saves the owner time and stress (versus doing the procedures independently).  Also, as discussed at the time of injury, once one ACL tears it is very common for the other to tear in the future.  Having the stem cells available in the future allows for re-infusion into originally affected limb and new limb if needed without having to collect additional cells.  Some owners do not have the funds to do all at once, but at least discussing the options with them helps them narrow down where their funds would be best utilized.

I also commonly bring it up for owners who are tired of what they perceive as over-medicating or “nothing works” idea.  Many of the cases I have done that were on medications have been able to be reduced significantly to none in some cases.  Although it can be mentioned as last resort if nothing else works, I feel like the sooner stem cell is used on the pet, the higher chances of success.  Including offering StemInsure when they are young (at time of spay or neuter) for those breeds that are prone to arthritis or those dogs (hunting, agility, etc) that are at higher risk of needing stem cell in their future.

I had a Newfoundland puppy that I did StemInsure on for her potential bilateral elbow dysplasia that her predecessor had and the fact of her size/breed overall.  2.5 years later she tore her ACL.  Her cells were already stored at that time and only had to be processed at the time of her knee repair.  Worked really well and the owners were pleased that that had even been offered back when she was a puppy.  It has been about 1.5 years since her TPLO/stem cell infusion and she continues to not need pain management.  She only takes Dasuquin (which I advise for all my patients with injuries or arthritis), regardless of stem cell.

What parameters make a patient a good candidate for stem cell therapy?

*are we on pain management and only minimal improvement?

*has the pet been on long term meds and liver/kidney values now an issue?  medications are more limited now

*are their neurologic deficits?   If yes, I generally do not proceed with stem cell.  I always offer a free initial assessment to see if stem cell would even be an option for the pet.

*does the pet have or has had cancer?  I usually do not proceed with stem cell.

*what other conditions might the pet have that would compromise the effectiveness of the stem cells or are they higher risk for anesthesia for the collection process? 

Advice for pet owners considering stem cell therapy for their pet.

There is so much benefit from stem cell aside from joint related ailments, that just reading about it and asking for testimonials goes a long way.  I am always open to calls for those interested or just want to know more about it.  I am also very real about the fact that it is intense and probably inconvenient for most the following 8 weeks after infusion, but it does get results.    

If you’re located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and are interested in VetStem Cell Therapy for your dog or cat, we recommend a visit with Dr. Echevarria.

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