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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Aug 6, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy for Diseases in Cats

This coming Sunday, August 8th, is International Cat Day! We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to discuss the use of stem cells for various diseases in cats. Like dogs and horses, VetStem Cell Therapy can be used in cats to treat orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis and injured tendons and ligaments. But there are several other diseases for which VetStem Cell Therapy may be helpful.

Chronic Kidney Disease

A common disease in cats is kidney disease. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a common 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.

One potential treatment option is VetStem Cell Therapy. Nearly 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for CKD and veterinarians have seen some promising results. Based upon data from a small number of feline patients treated with VetStem Cell Therapy, blood kidney values were slightly to moderately improved after treatment. While more evaluation is necessary, these results suggest VetStem Cell Therapy may be a viable treatment option for cats with CKD.

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.

Several cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD. In fact, one of our veterinary clients, Dr. Joel Stone, wrote a guest blog about one of his feline patients who experienced relief from IBD after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. In one of our own case studies, a 4-year-old Himalayan cat developed IBD and treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy quickly resolved the cat’s diarrhea and vomiting and led to an increased appetite with no recurrence. To add to that, in a recently published paper, 5 out of 7 IBD cats that were treated with stem cells were significantly improved or had complete resolution of symptoms, whereas the 4 control cats had no improvement.

Gingivostomatitis

Another unfortunate disease that affects cats is gingivostomatitis. Gingivostomatitis affects the mouths of felines and causes oral pain which leads to other symptoms such as decreased appetite, reduced grooming, and weight loss. The most common treatment is extracting all the cat’s chewing teeth, however only about 70% of cats will respond to this treatment. The remaining 30% of cats that do not respond will require lifelong treatment with medications.

Fewer cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for gingivostomatitis than CKD, however veterinarians have seen favorable results none the less. In addition to our own data, two small studies conducted at the University of California Davis showed that when fat-derived stem cell therapy was utilized in addition to teeth extractions, there was improvement or remission in the majority of cats treated. VetStem believes that fat-derived stem cell therapy without full extractions may be beneficial.

As you can see, VetStem Cell Therapy may be useful for a number of disease processes. Though the above conditions are still in the investigative stages, the preliminary results look very promising! If you think your cat may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us for a list of VetStem providers near you.

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Jul 30, 2021

Arthritic Dog has First Canine Total Ankle Replacement in Florida

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Osteoarthritis

Most of you are probably aware of joint replacement procedures in humans as well as in dogs. You may have heard of total hip replacement in dogs, a surgical procedure used to improve the quality of life in dogs with hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. A much less common procedure in dogs is ankle replacement. Recently, a dog underwent total ankle replacement at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s Small Animal Hospital and became the first canine to have the procedure in Florida.

Small Animal Veterinary Surgery

Leo Gets a New Ankle

The patient was Leo, a seven-year-old Lab, who was experiencing lameness as a result of severe hock (ankle) arthritis. His surgeon, Dr. Stanley Kim, is one of only twelve veterinary surgeons worldwide who are trained in the surgical technique. According to UF, “The procedure involved replacing the damaged surfaces of his joint with a prosthetic implant known as the TATE Ankle, developed by BioMedtrix. The procedure is currently in clinical evaluation at a limited number of centers around the world.”

After the procedure, Leo went through a lengthy recovery period. It was about three months before he was cleared to work towards his preoperative lifestyle. Fortunately, he had a smooth recovery. And approximately five months after the procedure, Leo is back to hiking and playing fetch! You can watch a little video about Leo and his procedure here.

Stem Cell Therapy with Joint Replacement

You may be wondering, “What does this have to do with stem cell therapy?!” While joint replacement is both extensive and expensive, sometimes it is the best course of treatment for dogs with severe arthritis. At VetStem, one of our goals is to encourage veterinarians and their clients to consider stem cell therapy for arthritic dogs before the need for joint replacement arises. Of course, that is not always easy, and some cases are so bad, joint replacement may be their only option to live a normal life.

When joint replacement is deemed the best treatment option, we like to remind dog owners that stem cell therapy can be a great addition to surgery. Using stem cell therapy in conjunction with surgery may lead to reduced healing time, less pain, and less scar tissue formation. To learn more, read this previous blog about using stem cell therapy in conjunction with surgery.

If you are interested in VetStem Cell Therapy for your pet, click here to find a provider near you.

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Jul 23, 2021

Dog Receives VetStem Cell Therapy for Disc Disease

In this week’s blog, we are sharing Bella’s story. Bella, a pit bull, was approximately twelve years old when she received VetStem Cell Therapy. She was previously diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and pain medication, unfortunately, brought her little relief.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

IVDD is a condition in which one or several intervertebral discs in the spine bulge, resulting in pressure on the spinal cord. This pressure may result in extreme pain and possibly loss of limb function. IVDD can be a result of chronic disc degeneration or from an acute injury. Conservative treatment with pain medications and anti-inflammatories may help patients who have a gradual onset of symptoms or whose symptoms are mild. In severe cases or when there are repeated episodes, surgery may be recommended.

A veterinarian in blue scrubs gives an IV injection of stem cells to Bella, a black and white pit bull, while her mom, a veterinary technician holds her.
Bella, receiving an intravenous injection of her own stem cells via VetStem Cell Therapy

Bella’s mom, a veterinary technician at Fort Lee Animal Clinic, noticed that Bella stopped jumping on and off furniture and was restless and unable to sleep comfortably at night. After researching her options, she decided to have Bella treated with her own stem cells. Dr. Nazar Pereymybida at Fort Lee Animal Clinic agreed that Bella may benefit from stem cell therapy and Bella became his first stem cell case.

Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

To begin the process, Dr. Pereymybida collected fat tissue from Bella’s abdomen in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was aseptically packaged and shipped to the VetStem laboratory in Poway, California. Once received, VetStem lab technicians processed the fat to extract and concentrate Bella’s stem and regenerative cells. Stem cell injections were prepared and shipped back to Dr. Pereymybida. Approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection procedure, Bella received multiple injections of her own stem cells along her paraspinal muscles as well as intravenously.

Stem cell treatment of IVDD falls under VetStem’s clinical research program for canine back pain. This program is designed to evaluate the safety and potential effectiveness of stem cells for numerous canine back conditions.

Results

Approximately two months after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy, Bella’s owner reported that her symptoms had improved! Though Bella was still on pain medications, her owner stated, “She’s now jumping on and off the bed and seems less painful and more energetic.” In addition, Bella was able to sleep comfortably through the entire night.

Unfortunately, Bella was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Her condition progressed rapidly and she crossed over the rainbow bridge.

While there is still more to learn about using VetStem Cell Therapy to treat canine IVDD, Bella’s case is not the only positive outcome reported. You may remember Bailee’s story from a while ago. He also received VetStem Cell Therapy for IVDD after an injury to his neck. And like Bella, Bailee also experienced a reduction in pain after treatment.

If your dog has IVDD or another painful back condition, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Since these conditions develop for different reasons, the stem cell protocol and outcome can vary for each dog. Any inquiries regarding treatment of similar conditions or other non-standard indications should be directed to VetStem personnel.

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Jul 16, 2021

Meet a Few VetStem Horses for National I Love Horses Day

Posted by Bob under VetStem

July 15th is National I Love Horses Day. To show our love of horses, we thought we’d share some of the VetStem employee horses in this week’s blog.

As most of you know, VetStem Cell Therapy was used in horses first, followed by dogs and later, cats. The first ever VetStem patient was a racehorse that was treated for a tendon injury that would have normally been career-ending. Since then, over 6,000 horses have had their stem cells processed at VetStem.

Horses most commonly receive stem cell treatment for tendon and ligament injuries, as well as joint issues. But some have received VetStem Cell Therapy for other conditions such as exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage and uveitis under our clinical development department. But that’s enough from us. Now meet some of our employees’ horses!

Libby is owned by our Safety and Technical Services Veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert. According to Dr. Vibert, Libby is the trifecta- she’s got brains, brawn, and beauty. Libby has only been with Dr. Vibert for just over a month. You may remember last week’s blog about Dr. Vibert’s horse Valor, who unfortunately had to be put down earlier this year. Dr. Vibert describes Valor as the sweetest boy, especially with children.

Cheddar and Joey are owned by our customer service manager, Veronika Graydon. See what Veronika has to say about her beloved horses: Chester aka Cheddar is my daughter’s retired Criollo polo pony from Uruguay. He is a sweet 27-year-old soul who I think is truly grateful for his now very easy life. Joey is my 14-year-old Friesian Percheron mare who I have had since she was born. She has no idea that she is a giant horse (no concept of personal space) and will do anything I ask of her with a willing spirit. They are BFFs and provide me with daily comic relief.

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