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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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Feb 22, 2010

Misleading Labels Can Lead to Overweight Dogs & Arthritis

 

We care so much about the health of our dogs, especially when it comes to weight and sometimes the parallels between human health and dog health are surprising.  Just as people search for low calorie food and often find the labels to be confusing, low calorie dog food labels can be misleading as well.  There is a link between being overweight and arthritis in people AND in our pet buddies!   Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug 19, 2022

Feline Osteoarthritis: What Your Cat is Not Telling You

August 22nd is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. We like to bring attention to this matter because the statistics for feline veterinary care are disparagingly low compared to dogs. According to one recent academic survey, only 20% of cat owners said they took their cat to the vet more than once a year, compared to 35% of dog owners. Additionally, 7% of cat owners said they never seek veterinary care, compared to 2% of dog owners. Likewise, in a targeted survey of pet owners conducted by the AVMA, only 48% of cat owners said they sought routine veterinary care for their cat, compared to 79% of dog owners. For the purpose of this blog, we will discuss feline osteoarthritis and why routine veterinary care is so important when it comes to managing this disease.

Cats Get Arthritis Too

It may surprise some to learn that a high percentage of cats will get or already have osteoarthritis (OA). According to one study, 91% of cats between 6 months and 20 years old have OA in at least one joint, as proven by X-rays. That being said, sometimes cats with OA have no visible changes on the X-rays. This is one of several reasons why osteoarthritis in cats can be difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Cats

For years, osteoarthritis in cats has been underdiagnosed when compared to dogs. One reason for this is that cats with OA present with different symptoms than what we see in dogs. Because of their smaller size and natural agility, cats tend to tolerate bone and joint problems better than dogs. But there are specific symptoms to watch out for.

According to the FDA, “Clinical signs of osteoarthritis in cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects.” Unlike dogs, cats do not commonly present with lameness or limping. Instead, they will be less willing to jump and/or have shorter jumps.

That being said, cats are masters at hiding their pain. Because it can be difficult to spot the signs of osteoarthritis in cats, routine veterinary care is essential. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your cat’s behavior and will perform a comprehensive exam. Additionally, there are newer tools such as this checklist, that can help determine if your cat has OA.

Treatment for Osteoarthritis in Cats

Unfortunately, there are fewer treatment options for cats with osteoarthritis compared to dogs. Unlike dogs, cats do not tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain medications very well. While there are some NSAIDs approved for short-term post-operative use in cats, there are currently no veterinary NSAIDs approved for safe, long-term use to control osteoarthritis pain in cats. There are some non-drug options including weight loss for overweight cats, increased exercise, as well as environmental accommodations such as elevated food bowls and more easily accessible litter boxes. But these are not the only non-drug treatment options available.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis in Cats

VetStem Cell Therapy is a non-drug treatment option for osteoarthritis in cats, dogs, and horses. It can be particularly beneficial for cats, given that effective treatment options to control osteoarthritis pain are extremely limited. Stem cells have shown the ability to directly modulate pain and down-regulate inflammation. Additionally, stem cells can induce repair and stimulate regeneration of cartilage and other joint tissues. The beauty of VetStem Cell Therapy is that we are harnessing your pet’s own healing power, so it can be considered a natural and holistic approach to managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

If you are interested in having your pet treated with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Jun 10, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy Helps Cat with Gingivostomatitis

We’ve talked about treating feline gingivostomatitis with VetStem Cell Therapy a few times on this blog. But sometimes we need more than just the science to describe how this treatment can potentially help cats. So this time, we will share a success story. Finn is a Siamese cat with gingivostomatitis who experienced an improvement in his symptoms after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.

Gingivostomatitis Symptoms

At just five months old, Finn was diagnosed with gingivostomatitis. Gingivostomatitis is a debilitating condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the affected cat’s gums. It can be very painful and lead to inappetence, reduced grooming, and weight loss. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. Common treatments include lifelong medical management with antibiotics, steroids, pain medications, and/or full mouth teeth extractions.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Gingivostomatitis

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, stimulate neoangiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), 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.

Finn’s Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

Finn

Finn’s owners tried several medications in an effort to improve his symptoms, but nothing worked. They were determined to not have all of his teeth extracted and were willing to do whatever it took. His veterinarian recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy and just shy of his first birthday, Finn received stem cell therapy.

To begin the process, fat was collected from Finn’s abdomen during a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was sent to the VetStem processing laboratory. Lab technicians processed his fat to extract and concentrate his stem and regenerative cells and Finn received one intravenous injection of his own cells. Approximately four weeks later, Finn received a second intravenous dose using some of the stem cells banked from his initial fat collection.

According to his owners, Finn responded well to the treatment. His owner stated, “[the stem cell treatment] seemed to improve and maintain his condition especially over time so that Finn is happy, healthy, and living a great life. We plan to administer cells every year or so to keep his condition manageable and hopefully keep him healthier too.”

If your cat has gingivostomatitis, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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May 20, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy for Canine Cruciate Ligament Tears

Cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common reasons for hind limb lameness, pain, and subsequent knee arthritis in dogs. Additionally, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, 40-60% of dogs who injure one cruciate ligament will go on to injure the other cruciate ligament in the future. While there are multiple treatment options available, both surgical and non-surgical, treatment with stem cells may accelerate and improve healing within the joint.

Risk Factors for Cruciate Ligament Rupture

Unfortunately, no dog is completely safe from a cruciate ligament tear. However, there are certain risk factors that make cruciate ligament tears more likely. The cause of canine cruciate tears is likely multi-factorial and include breed, activity level, reproductive status, body weight, body condition, conformation, and even immune system variables. Canine cruciate ligament rupture ultimately results in degradation of the joint structures which leads to degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis.

Treatment Options for Cruciate Ligament Tears

There are several treatment options for cruciate ligament tears which may depend on the severity of the injury. Common treatment recommendations include rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical rehabilitation, and surgical repair. While surgery may be indicated for complete tears, partial tears can sometimes heal without surgical intervention. Unfortunately, degradation of the joint and subsequent osteoarthritis will likely still occur with or without surgery.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Cruciate Ligament Injuries

The goal of using VetStem Cell Therapy for cruciate ligament tears in addition to surgery and other standard treatments is to halt or reduce the progression of osteoarthritis and thereby improve the dog’s condition long-term. By halting or reducing the development of osteoarthritis in the knee, a dog will experience less discomfort and better functional ability. Stem cells help to achieve this by migrating to areas of inflammation and reducing inflammation, stimulating tissue repair, and reducing scar tissue formation.

If your dog has experienced a cruciate ligament tear, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

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May 13, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy Helps Senior Lab Walk Again

We absolutely love hearing stem cell success stories from pet owners. But some stories are extra touching because it’s clear that VetStem really improved a pet’s quality of life. That’s the case with Molly, a senior chocolate lab who was suffering from severe osteoarthritis and a potential spinal condition.

Molly

Osteoarthritis and Neurological Issue?

Molly has severe osteoarthritis (OA) in her hocks (ankles) and her left elbow. With a noticeable limp in her left front leg, one veterinarian called her elbow a mess after seeing X-rays of the joint. But Molly’s condition quickly deteriorated when one day she suddenly couldn’t walk at all. According to her owners, she was unable to bear any weight on her back legs and her back paws knuckled under when her owners tried to help her stand.

Her veterinarian worried that Molly may have a neurological issue such as a herniated disc in her spine, which can sometimes lead to being unable to walk. An MRI was offered however Molly’s owners elected to use the money to have Molly treated with VetStem Cell Therapy instead.

Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

Molly’s veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Wolf of Metropolitan Veterinary Associates, collected fat tissue from Molly’s abdomen during a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was aseptically packaged and shipped to the VetStem laboratory in Poway, California where VetStem lab technicians processed the fat to extract and concentrate the stem and regenerative cells contained therein. Molly’s cells were divided into doses and four stem cell injections were shipped to Dr. Wolf for treatment. Approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection procedure, Molly received one stem cell injection into each hock, her left elbow, and intravenously.

Molly Regains Her Ability to Walk!

According to her owner, Molly had a great response to the stem cell therapy. Just two weeks after her 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. When her back paws were flipped over, she righted them within two seconds.

Molly’s 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.”

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common diseases in dogs and pain associated with osteoarthritis can greatly reduce a dog’s quality of life. If you think your dog may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to find a VetStem provider near you.

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Apr 8, 2022

The Many Benefits of Walking your Dog

April 6th was National Walking Day. Regular walks can have several health benefits for both people and our dogs! In this blog, we will look at the potential benefits that come with taking your dog on regular walks.

Walking to Improve Joint Health

Walking is a relatively easy and low-impact exercise that has been shown to reduce symptoms related to osteoarthritis. Regular walks can help you lose or maintain weight, thereby causing less stress on the joints. It can also lead to increased muscle mass, which shifts the pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles. In addition, it increases joint fluid circulation which is beneficial to maintaining healthy joint cartilage.

Since 1 in 5 dogs is diagnosed with osteoarthritis, it is important to take care of their joint health from an early age. Like in people, walking can help to reduce the symptoms or delay the onset of osteoarthritis in dogs. And as a low-impact activity, walking puts minimal stress on the body, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

Additional Benefits of Walking

We mentioned above that regular walks can help your dog lose or maintain an ideal weight. While this is of course good for their joints, it is also beneficial to their overall health. Unfortunately, obesity has become a major health issue in pets. Obesity in dogs can lead to several diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and several types of cancer. By helping your dog achieve and maintain an ideal weight, you are potentially helping them live longer.

Additionally, regular walks can help to regulate your dog’s digestive and urinary systems. Routine walks outside can help keep your dog “regular” and prevent constipation while regular emptying of the bladder can help reduce the risk of bladder infections.

Lastly, regular walks outside with your dog can be beneficial for your dog’s mental and emotional health. Walking exercises the mind as well as the body. Allowing your dog to explore and smell different scents provides mental stimulation. And by giving them something constructive to do, such as walking, you may prevent them from doing something destructive, like chewing on your favorite pair of shoes.

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Mar 11, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy in Dog with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

It happens occasionally that a pet is treated with VetStem Cell Therapy for one condition, such as osteoarthritis, but the owners notice that a separate condition improves as a result of the therapy. That was the case with Finn, a German Shepherd who is owned by Dr. Lesley Gonzales of Gruda Veterinary Hospital.

Finn was adopted as an adult after he was found in the desert of Yuma, AZ. Thus, nothing was known about his previous medical history. From the get-go, he experienced gastrointestinal issues including chronic diarrhea, intermittent vomiting, and difficulty gaining and maintaining weight. After multiple tests ruled out infectious diseases, his veterinarian mom put him on a strict limited-ingredient diet, which helped to somewhat improve his symptoms but not entirely.

Finn

Then, in 2020, Finn partially tore his cruciate ligament. Due to his gastrointestinal issues, Finn was extremely limited on what medication he could take to help control his inflammation and pain. Thus, Dr. Gonzales decided to treat his knee with VetStem Cell Therapy. When she collected a sample of his abdominal fat for stem cell processing, she also took biopsies of his intestines, which allowed her to officially diagnose him with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

For his initial stem cell treatment, Finn received one dose of his own stem cells into his injured knee. He also received an intravenous dose. Stem cells have demonstrated the ability to home, or migrate, to areas of inflammation. Thus, we can assume that, when given intravenously, the stem cells would migrate to his knee and/or other areas that may have been inflamed. Within two weeks, Finn was noticeably more comfortable. His pain and lameness were much improved.

Approximately six weeks after his initial treatment, Dr. Gonzales noticed that Finn’s intestinal symptoms had also improved. According to Dr. Gonzales, his diarrhea resolved completely, and he was finally able to reach his ideal body weight. She also noticed improvements in his blood parameters.

Dr. Gonzales treated Finn with another dose of IV stem cells, this time specifically for IBD, approximately six months after his first treatment. She gave him a third IV dose approximately five months after his second. Finn has since experienced sustained control of his symptoms, he has maintained an ideal body weight, and he is now able to tolerate a greater variety of food ingredients without them upsetting his stomach.

IBD can be a frustrating disease. A definitive diagnosis can be time-consuming and costly, traditional treatments are life-long and can be complex, and the animal often continues to experience symptoms of the disease. Several dogs and cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD and have experienced an improvement in symptoms. Stem cells have shown to down-regulate inflammation, modulate the immune system, and repair damaged tissue, all of which can contribute to healing inflamed and diseased intestines. If your pet has IBD, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

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Feb 18, 2022

Preventive Care for Your Pet on National Love Your Pet Day

Posted by Bob under Pets, Veterinary Medicine

National Love Your Pet Day is this weekend and what better way to show your pets that you love them than getting them a wellness exam with your family veterinarian? I’m sure that’s exactly how you and your pet want to celebrate, right? All kidding aside, I know that vet visits aren’t a walk in the park for some pets, but scheduling yearly or better yet, twice yearly, wellness exams for your furry (or scaly, or feathered, or shelled) family members is one of the most loving things you can do for them.

Like the adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Yearly or twice-yearly veterinary examinations and routine diagnostic testing enables your pet’s doctor to detect problems early on so hopefully they don’t become chronic illnesses later. Like your family physician, your veterinarian underwent years of training to detect subtle changes in your pet that you may not recognize, and then make recommendations for treatment or further investigation. Additionally, the wellness appointment gives you the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with your veterinarian about multiple topics or points of concern, while an illness or injury appointment is usually focused around one particular problem.

Preventive health care visits for your pet should include a complete medical history, physical exam, recommendations for appropriate flea/tick/internal parasite control and vaccinations that are tailored to your pets’ needs. Dental care, nutrition, weight control, exercise/mobility, pain assessment, reproductive health (i.e. spay/neuter or breeding status), pet identification (i.e. microchip), and pet health insurance should also be topics that are covered during the visit.

And although you may think that once or twice-yearly wellness exams are a bit too frequent, consider this: cats and dogs age at a rate that is MUCH faster than you do so a yearly exam for them is equal to an exam every several years for you. The exact rate of pet aging depends on several factors including their species, size/breed, their environment, and their access to preventive care. Click here for the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) article on how to approximate your dog’s age in human years. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also has some great information found here on defining at what age cats and dogs are considered “senior” and how to keep them healthy and happy as they get older.

So, make that appointment and show them you love them with the gift of health. Ok, and maybe a special treat too!

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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.

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