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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.

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 »

May 19, 2023

Obesity and Exercise: Managing Arthritis in Pets

As you probably know, May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and we are discussing all things arthritis in pets in the VetStem blog. In last week’s blog, we covered arthritis in cats. This week we are discussing obesity and exercise and how these two things can help you manage your pet’s arthritis.

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that obesity or excess weight can cause or exacerbate arthritis in pets. Excess weight puts more stress on the joints and thereby causes them to break down faster. Unfortunately, several reports in recent years have indicated that obesity in pets is on the rise. Thus, osteoarthritis rates are also on the rise. It is estimated that approximately 25-30% of the general canine population in North America are obese, making it the most common preventable disease in dogs. Unsurprisingly, approximately 20% of all dogs are affected by OA, making it the most common chronic disease in dogs. Are you picking up on a pattern?

Fortunately, there is something that can help control weight AND arthritis symptoms: Exercise! That’s right, exercise, especially low- to moderate-impact exercise can not only help keep your pet in shape, it can also help to reduce the symptoms or delay the onset of arthritis.

Exercise such as walking and light hiking can help to maintain or reduce your dog’s weight, thus putting less stress on their joints. Additionally, routine exercise can help to strengthen the muscles and supporting soft tissue structures around the joints, promoting increased joint stability. It can also increase joint fluid circulation, which is beneficial to maintaining healthy joint cartilage.

While exercising your pet has many benefits, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian first, if you have concerns about your pet’s abilities. Generally speaking, regular, moderate exercise is favored over intermittent, intense exercise. According to Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Regular physical activity is paramount in the treatment of osteoarthritis both in humans and animals. A lifestyle of regular activity that is moderated away from intermittent extremes of exercise (such as long hikes on the weekends) and activities to which the pet is not conditioned is essential. Ideally, multiple shorter walks are better than one long one. The same activity every day (or slightly increasing if tolerated) is ideal.”

May 12, 2023

Arthritis Awareness Month: Arthritis in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Cats

As we shared in last week’s blog, May is Arthritis Awareness Month. We spend a lot of time talking about arthritis in dogs but it’s important to remember that cats get arthritis too! And because cats are masters at hiding their pain, and their symptoms present differently, sometimes it’s hard to know when our cats have arthritis.

Arthritis in Cats

It may surprise you 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 detect and diagnose.

Symptoms of Arthritis 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.

Unlike dogs, cats with pain from arthritis do not typically present with lameness and limping. Instead, they will be less willing to jump and/or have shorter jumps. You may also notice a loss of appetite and weight loss, depression or a change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, and urination or defecation outside the litter box.

Checklist to Screen for Early Signs of Arthritis in Cats

Fortunately, there are some newer tools available to help cat owners and veterinarians determine if a cat may have OA. One such tool is a checklist developed by researchers designed to help determine if a cat is suffering from pain associated with OA. The publication analyzed and compiled data from previously conducted studies to develop a short checklist that veterinarians can use to help detect pain associated with OA. The checklist may also be beneficial for owners who are concerned their cat may have OA.

The compiled data allowed researchers to pare down longer diagnostic questionnaires into six short questions:

  1. Does your cat jump up normally?
  2. Does your cat jump down normally?
  3. Does your cat climb up stairs or steps normally?
  4. Does your cat climb down stairs or steps normally?
  5. Does your cat run normally?
  6. Does your cat chase moving objects (toys, prey, etc.)

Treatment for Cats with Arthritis
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 according to the FDA.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Arthritis in Cats
VetStem Cell Therapy is a potential 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.

If you think your cat may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

May 5, 2023

May is Arthritis Awareness Month

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis

May is Arthritis Awareness Month for pets (and people, too!). It is estimated that one in five dogs is affected by osteoarthritis (OA). Additionally, four to nine out of ten cats experience pain from OA. According to research conducted by Banfield in 2019, OA has been on the rise over the past ten years with a 66% increase in dogs and a150% increase in cats.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease in which the cartilage within a joint breaks down, causing changes in the surrounding bone. Common symptoms of OA include pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. In dogs, the majority of OA cases stem from a developmental orthopedic disease such as joint dysplasia. It can also develop as a result of an injury such as a cruciate ligament tear.

Another factor that contributes to the formation or worsening of OA is weight. Excess weight puts more stress on a pet’s joints and thereby increases the risk of developing OA. Unfortunately, obesity in pets is on the rise and, according to Banfield’s research, one out of three cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight. Thus, it makes sense that osteoarthritis in pets is also on the rise.

Osteoarthritis Treatments

While osteoarthritis can be a debilitating condition that severely affects a pet’s quality of life, there are several treatment options available. Like people, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain medications are commonly used in animals to treat pain from OA. Rehabilitation and exercise can also be effective at mitigating some of the major symptoms of OA and can help to strengthen the muscles that support a pet’s joints.

VetStem Cell Therapy has been used on thousands of patients to treat osteoarthritis. In addition to reducing pain and inflammation, stem cells can actually help to regenerate damaged joint tissues, leading to increased comfort and mobility. After receiving stem cell therapy, many pets have been able to reduce or discontinue their use of NSAIDs, which can have negative effects on major organs after prolonged use.

If you think your pet may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

Apr 28, 2023

Guest Blog: VetStem Cell Therapy for My Cat with IBD

Hi all! Veronika here, VetStem’s Customer Service Manager. I’m taking over the blog this week to tell you the story of Gryffin, my cat who received VetStem Cell Therapy for inflammatory bowel disease. Gryffin is an eleven-year-old Ragdoll who rules our house! He has many nicknames including Gryffindorable and the Handsomest of Handsomes! If you haven’t guessed, he has me wrapped around his little fluffy paw.


But recently, he has been experiencing some symptoms that warranted a trip to the vet. My normally floofy boy lost a lot of his beautiful coat. He was vomiting 2-3 times a week, had a reduced appetite and weight loss. Though normally full of catitude, he was acting lethargic and not playing or engaging much with the family or my crazy Frenchie, Darby, and was often isolating.

Gryffin was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 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. Numerous cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD and I’ve heard great results firsthand from some of their owners so I knew exactly what I needed to do.

Gryffin received his first stem cell treatment in February. About a week after that first intravenous injection, I noticed small positive changes. His appetite increased and he was generally a little more upbeat. He was coming out of his shell a little bit and even started climbing to the top of his cat tree again.

Gryffin back on top!

He received a second intravenous stem cell treatment in early March, three weeks after his first treatment. That is when I began to notice more obvious improvements. He now voluntarily plays (by himself or with us). He’s also begun doing “racetrack” around the house again and annoying Darby. His stools have firmed up and he has not vomited in probably a month or more. I even bought him $30 worth of cat toys because I was so excited he wants to play again! His coat has started to come back and he has gained some weight.

I know without a doubt that stem cells helped my sweet boy feel better. I’m so fortunate to work for VetStem and to know about this amazing technology. I want to spread the word to all pet owners who are dealing with IBD, which can be such a frustrating and debilitating disease. If you think VetStem might help your furry friend, don’t hesitate to reach out! You can bring it up to your veterinarian (print out this blog if you want!) or use our Locate a Vet page to find a VetStem vet near you:  

Check out a video of Gryffin playing with his toy mouse now that he’s feeling better:

Apr 21, 2023

VetStem Cell Therapy Helps Bulldog with Knee Arthritis

Today is Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day, an unofficial holiday to celebrate all those short-nosed, loveable, goof balls! There are several different types of bulldogs including the English Bulldog and the very popular French Bulldog. In this blog, we want to share the stem cell story of an English Bulldog named Knuckles.

Like several breeds, English Bulldogs are prone to their own array of diseases and complications. One of which is, you guessed it, arthritis. Some bulldogs may be predisposed to joint dysplasia, an inherited condition that causes a malformed joint and osteoarthritis. This active and sometimes overweight breed also runs the risk of cruciate ligament rupture, another condition that can lead to osteoarthritis.

Poor Knuckles not only tore his cruciate ligament, he also had a luxating patella – a knee cap that shifts out of alignment. He underwent surgery to repair both problems but unfortunately the surgery failed. He developed a serious bacterial infection in his knee and the hardware that was placed during surgery had to be removed. After a long course of strong antibiotics, Knuckles’ condition continued to worsen. He lost muscle in the leg and didn’t want to use it, despite being on large amounts of anti-inflammatories, pain medications, joint supplements, and joint injections.

Fortunately, Knuckles was referred to Dr. Holly Mullen, a board-certified veterinary surgeon in San Diego. She determined that the bacterial infection damaged Knuckles’ knee so badly that he no longer had cartilage cushioning the joint, it was bone-on-bone. His pain would likely continue to increase until his only option was amputation. As an alternative, Dr. Mullen recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.

Knuckles chasing bubbles

To begin the VetStem process, a fat tissue collection was performed, and the tissue was sent to the VetStem laboratory. Due to Knuckles’ unique case, VetStem performed extra sterility testing to ensure his stem cells did not contain traces of bacteria. Additionally, Dr. Mullen tested the fluid in his knee to ensure he was clear of infection. When both tests came back negative, Knuckles received one injection of his own stem cells into his bad knee, and also an IV injection.

According to his owner, knuckles had a great response to the stem cell treatment! She stated, “At 7 years old, Knuckles has basically turned back into a puppy. Thirty days after his treatment, he was able to stop taking any medications at all! He now bears full weight on his leg, and he has gained back almost all of the muscle.” Knuckles was once again able to play with his sister and his best friend, climb up in the bed for snuggles, and do his favorite thing: chase bubbles!

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.

Apr 14, 2023

VetStem Cell Therapy for Puppy with Hip Dysplasia

Arthritis in dogs is hard at any age. But it’s especially heartbreaking when puppies are diagnosed with arthritis. That was the case for Ellie Mae, a hound mix, who was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia resulting in osteoarthritis.

At approximately nine months old, Ellie Mae started limping. Soon after that, she stopped putting any weight on her back left leg and would cry every time she had to get up. Eventually, she stopped wanting to play at all. A trip to the veterinarian revealed that Ellie has osteoarthritis in both hips as a result of hip dysplasia.

Ellie Mae

A hereditary condition, hip dysplasia is a deformity of the ball and socket hip joint that occurs during growth. The deformity results in joint laxity (looseness) and eventually leads to osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a painful condition that can greatly reduce a dog’s mobility and quality of life.

Fortunately for Ellie, her veterinarian Dr. Glenn Behan of Barnegat Animal Clinic, recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. To begin the process, Dr. Behan collected fat tissue from Ellie Mae in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was shipped to the VetStem laboratory where technicians extracted her stem cells to create doses for treatment and cryopreservation. Approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection procedure, Ellie Mae received one dose of her own stem cells into each hip.

According to Ellie Mae’s owner, “Nothing worked until the stem cells.” After her treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, Ellie Mae slowly began to get better. Her owner stated, “It took about 2-3 months after the stem cell treatment, and she was running around like she never had a problem. She loves to run and go on walks with no problems. Rolls around and even shows her belly again when rolling on her back. She is about 15 months old now and is a crazy playful girl and enjoying playing with her sisters once again!”

VetStem Cell Therapy is used by veterinarians to treat a wide variety of injuries and diseases and may provide relief when, as in Ellie Mae’s case, other treatments are not working. VetStem Cell Therapy utilizes the body’s natural healing cells to accelerate and improve the quality of healing for acute conditions and to slow, stop, and ultimately revert the course of chronic diseases. If you think your pet may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

Mar 24, 2023

National Newfoundland Dog Day: VetStem Cell Therapy for Ava

Tomorrow, March 25th, is National Newfoundland Dog Day! Newfies are a unique breed and are often as sweet and gentle as they are big! Unfortunately, like all giant breeds, Newfies are prone to orthopedic issues like osteoarthritis and cruciate ligament injuries. This was exactly the case for Ava, a 115-pound, 3-year-old Newfoundland who partially tore her cruciate ligaments in both knees.

As a mellow dog, Ava was able to recover without surgical intervention and resumed her normal activities without any noticeable pain. That being said, when Ava was approximately 6 years old, she began showing signs of pain and decreased mobility, a result of the arthritis that had developed in her knees.


Ava’s veterinarian diagnosed Ava with moderate osteoarthritis in both knees and recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Ava’s owner agreed, stating, “I have grown up with horses and had seen success stories of using stem cells to help ligament and tendon tears…and started researching VetStem. After all, a Newfoundland is really a mini pony.”

To begin the VetStem process, Ava’s veterinarian collected fat from her abdomen in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was aseptically packaged and shipped to the VetStem processing laboratory in Poway, California. Lab technicians processed the fat to extract and concentrate Ava’s stem and regenerative cells. Three injectable doses of Ava’s own stem cells were shipped to her veterinarian and approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection procedure, Ava received one injection into each knee as well as an intravenous injection. The rest of her cells were put into cryopreservation for potential future use.

Ava’s owner noted that it took about four weeks to see significant improvement in her lameness and mobility. At six weeks post stem cell therapy, Ava could get up from lying down and walk normally. She no longer did mini-skips or awkwardly adjusted her weight between her back legs.  She was also able to discontinue her use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Nine months after treatment, Ava was examined, and her veterinarian noted that both knees felt very strong and stable compared to before the stem cell treatment.

Approximately two years later, Ava hurt her leg again while playing. Fortunately, she had banked stem cell doses from her initial treatment. This time, Ava’s veterinarian treated both of her knees and both of her elbows, where she had also developed arthritis. Like before, it took about four weeks before Ava’s owner noticed improvement in her mobility. She was able to trot and play with her sister Newfie and go on her normal thirty-minute walk. Prior to stem cell therapy, Ava’s owner stated that she could barely go on a five-minute walk. 

Just over a year and a half after Ava’s second stem cell treatment, her owner contacted VetStem to say that Ava was still doing well. At nearly ten years old, Ava was still moving around well and had not had any anti-inflammatory medication since four weeks post her second treatment with stem cells. Her owner stated, “I can’t recommend stem cell therapy enough…so many people who know her were able to see the difference in her level of comfort, which only validates her story in my eyes even more. Thank you VetStem, you truly saved my bear’s life and I will always be thankful for that!” If you think your pet may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of providers near you.

Mar 17, 2023

VetStem Cell Therapy for Horse with Tendon Injuries

Though we spend a lot of time in this blog focusing on stem cells for dogs, VetStem Cell Therapy has helped a significant number of horses as well. Numerous athletic horses that suffered potentially career-ending injuries were able to get back into competition with the help of stem cells. Similarly, non-competitive horses have also benefited from VetStem Cell Therapy, which allowed them to live better quality lives with less pain.

One example is a Quarter Horse named SR Famousinparadise or Elvis for short. Elvis suffered severe injuries to both front deep digital flexor tendons (DDFT). The DDFT functions to stabilize the joints of the lower leg when the limb is weight bearing and allows flexion of the digit. Unfortunately, injuries to the DDFT are common in athletic horses. These injuries are serious and can significantly affect a horse’s soundness and athletic ability. Injury to the DDFT typically requires a lengthy rehabilitation process regardless of the treatment method.

SR Famousinparadise aka Elvis

In Elvis’ case, his veterinarian, Dr. Fabio Aristizabal of Cave Creek Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Typically, the fat for stem cell therapy comes from the tailhead of the horse. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that can be done with limited to no scarring. After the fat was processed at the VetStem cell processing laboratory, several doses of Elvis’ own stem cells were prepared and shipped to his veterinarian for injection into his injured tendons and surrounding areas.

VetStem Cell Therapy utilizes the patient’s natural healing cells to treat degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis as well as traumatic injuries such as torn ligaments and injured tendons. Stem cells are regenerative cells that can differentiate into many tissue types. They have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, help to restore range of motion, and stimulate regeneration of tendon, ligament, and joint tissues. Additionally, stem cells can reduce the formation of scar tissue, and lead to cleaner, more complete healing of torn tendons and ligaments.

After his treatment, Elvis began a strict rehab protocol including stall rest, hand walking, and new shoes every six weeks. At about 1/3 of the way through his recovery, Elvis had an ultrasound to evaluate his injuries which showed significant healing. According to his owner, Elvis continued his rehab program and has appeared happy since the treatment.

If you think your horse may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.