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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Oct 22, 2021

October Update on our Human Stem Cell Company

For those of you who follow our blog, you probably know that we launched a human stem cell company in 2018. Click here for a refresher. Since then, Personalized Stem Cells (PSC) has received FDA approval for two investigational new drug (IND) applications.

Knee Osteoarthritis Clinical Trial

The first FDA approved clinical trial was for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. Data was submitted to the FDA for this trial earlier this year and the results look very promising. PSC reported that over 79% of patients improved and there were no serious adverse events reported. With the first clinical trial under their belts, PSC plans to launch a larger, placebo-controlled trial in the coming months.

COVID-19 Clinical Trial

The second IND was for a COVID-19 clinical trial. In the early days of the pandemic, PSC went to work to manufacture stem cells and secure FDA approval for a clinical trial to study the effects of stem cell therapy to treat COVID-19. We announced the news back in July 2020 here on the VetStem blog. But the good news didn’t stop there!

A graphic of a chest and lungs on a black background. The lungs are highlighted blue implying inflammation from COVID-19 infection

In October 2020, PSC entered into a licensing agreement with Sorrento Therapeutics and granted them global rights to their allogeneic (donor-derived) stem cell program, including the COVID-19 clinical trial. This was a lucrative move for the company and allowed PSC experts to return focus to autologous (patient-derived) stem cell treatments.

Phase 1b COVID-19 Clinical Trial Results

Results from the first COVID-19 clinical trial were very promising. The initial Phase 1b clinical trial was conducted in California at UCSF Fresno. In the initial study, ten patients that were hospitalized and required oxygen supplementation, were all discharged from the hospital shortly after completing treatment with stem cells. These promising results helped secure approval for the Phase 2 study in Brazil earlier this year.

Brazilian Phase 2 COVID-19 Clinical Trial

The latest news from Sorrento is that the first patient was recently enrolled in the Brazilian COVID-19 study. This trial, which, like the Phase 1b trial is being conducted by Sorrento Therapeutics, is a randomized, placebo-controlled study designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of three allogeneic (donor-derived) mesenchymal stem cell infusions administered on varying schedules in 100 patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as a result of COVID-19 infection. The hope is that the results of this trial will mirror the results of the initial clinical trial and that this treatment modality will eventually become more accessible.

We couldn’t be prouder of the work we do here at VetStem and also at Personalized Stem Cells. Without the 15+ years of VetStem data from veterinary stem cell treatments, PSC would likely not be here. And to know that we contributed to potentially saving lives affected by COVID-19 is really something spectacular. We also want to thank all of YOU, our pet owners and veterinary clients, for trusting VetStem to handle your pets’ and patients’ stem cells. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

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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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