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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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Jan 15, 2021

Talk a Walk this January for Walk Your Pet Month!

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis

January is Walk Your Pet Month! This month-long celebration serves to remind pet owners of the benefits of regular exercise. Walking your dog (or your cat!) can be an easy way to provide your pet with consistent, low-impact exercise, which can lead to improvements in joint health.

Benefits of Regular Exercise

Like people, pets may benefit from regular exercise. Walking is a low-impact exercise that may contribute to weight loss and may delay the onset and/or severity of osteoarthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking comes with several benefits which may lead to healthier joints including muscle strengthening, joint fluid circulation, and weight loss. Weight loss is an important factor when it comes to managing pain and lameness associated with osteoarthritis. One study found that weight loss significantly decreased lameness in obese dogs with OA.

VetStem patient, Rascal, getting some exercise and some vitamin sea!

How to Exercise Your Pet

Different pets require different exercise regimens, which vary based on several factors. One of your best resources is your veterinarian. He/She can help you build an exercise plan tailored specifically to your pet. That being said, it appears that regular, moderate exercise may be beneficial in comparison to 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.”

Cats Need Exercise Too!

When we think of walking our pet, most of us immediately think of dogs. But cats suffer from osteoarthritis too and may benefit from routine exercise. Of course, it is not quite as easy with cats as it is with dogs. Some cats may like to walk on the leash. Others may prefer to play with a toy. Speak to your veterinarian about appropriate ways to exercise your cats to help keep them as healthy as possible.

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Dec 4, 2020

VetStem Cell Therapy Success Story: Feline Kidney Disease

It is officially December and we all know what that means: it’s National Cat Lovers’ Month! To celebrate, we have a special feline success story to share. You may remember from previous blogs such as this one, that many veterinarians use VetStem Cell Therapy to treat a number of internal medicine conditions in cats including kidney disease. One such patient is Kitters, who received VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease over seven years ago!

Symptoms and Diagnosis

At the age of 15, Kitters was diagnosed with kidney disease. He exhibited many of the common symptoms of renal failure such as lack of appetite, excessive thirst, nausea, lethargy, and weight loss. He was prescribed a typical protocol for kidney disease which included a prescription, low protein diet and subcutaneous fluids. While these treatments can potentially slow the progression of the disease, they will not reverse it.

Kitters receiving an IV dose of his own stem cells

Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

Fortunately for Kitters, his owner found a veterinarian who was willing to try VetStem Cell Therapy to potentially help him feel better. She drove Kitters from Los Angeles to Oakland, California to visit Dr. Gary Richter of Montclair Veterinary Hospital. Kitters underwent a fat tissue collection procedure to begin the VetStem process. His fat was processed at our laboratory where his stem and regenerative cells were extracted and concentrated. An injectable dose of Kitters’ stem cells was shipped back to Dr. Richter for intravenous injection back into Kitters. Two weeks later, he received a follow up intravenous injection.

Feeling Like Himself Again

Approximately 35 days after treatment with stem cells, Kitters was clearly feeling better. He was eating more, his energy was up, and he began putting on the weight he previously lost. His blood kidney values also went down after treatment. His mom made a great and very informative video documenting Kitters’ journey. You can watch it here.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Feline Kidney Disease

Kitters was originally treated back in 2013, and though he was not the first cat to receive VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease, many veterinarians were not aware of this potential treatment option back then. In recent years however, more and more veterinarians are beginning to offer VetStem Cell Therapy for both cats and dogs with kidney disease. As of December 2020, nearly 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease and the outcome data collected from these cases appears promising.

If your cat has kidney disease, speak to your veterinarian to see if VetStem Cell Therapy may help. You can also contact us to find a VetStem provider near you.

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Oct 30, 2020

Stem Cells for Cats on National Cat Day

Posted by Bob under Cat Stem Cells

Yesterday, October 29th, was National Cat Day! We could not let this holiday pass by without a shout out in our blog! We at VetStem love cats and employ quite a few self-professed “crazy cat ladies.”

National Cat Day was created to bring awareness to the many cats that need rescuing each year and to “encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us.” 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!

Regenerative Medicine for Cats

To honor our feline friends, we have compiled a review of stem cell uses for cats. Like dogs and horses, cats may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy for arthritic joints or injured tendons and ligaments. In addition, many veterinarians have used VetStem Cell Therapy in cats for kidney disease, gingivostomatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Osteoarthritis

Though we tend to think of dogs when it comes to arthritis, cats are susceptible to the disease as well. Unlike some dogs, cats are very good at hiding their pain. If you are unsure if your cat is in pain, speak to your veterinarian. We’ve also written a few blogs on the topic: click here and here to learn some of the possible signs of pain in cats.

Though most of our osteoarthritis data is from dogs, cats have experienced similar results when treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. Stem cells may reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and may lead to the regeneration of damaged joint tissues. This can result in increased mobility and a better quality of life for your kitty.

Kidney Disease

Nearly 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for chronic kidney disease (CKD). 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.  

VetStem veterinarians have seen some promising results in the treatment of feline CKD. Based upon data from a small number of feline patients treated with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy, blood kidney values were slightly to moderately improved after treatment. While more evaluation is necessary, these preliminary results suggest that stem cell therapy may be a low-risk treatment option for cats with CKD.

Gingivostomatitis

Another debilitating feline disease is gingivostomatitis, which affects the gums, teeth and sometimes upper throat of cats. Gingivostomatitis 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.

Some veterinarians have seen favorable results using VetStem Cell Therapy in cats affected by gingivostomatitis. In addition, 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.

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 a case study where a 4-year-old Himalayan cat developed IBD, treatment with VetStem Regenerative 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 cats that were treated with stem cells were significantly improved or had complete resolution of symptoms, whereas the 4 control cats had no improvement. One of our veterinary clients also wrote a guest blog about one of his feline patients who received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD.

If you believe 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. Maybe stem cell therapy is just the gift your cat needs for National Cat Day!

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Oct 9, 2020

The Link Between Obesity and Osteoarthritis

Posted by Bob under osteoarthritis, Pet Obesity

Over the past 10 years, there has been a significant increase in pet obesity rates according to a report conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital. In this report, Banfield determined obesity is the second most common health problem in our pets with 1 out of 3 dogs and cats (in the Banfield population) classified as overweight.

Obesity may cause or exacerbate multiple health issues, including 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. That means an overweight dog is more than twice as likely to suffer from this painful disease than a dog of ideal weight. 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 a pet to be 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 this blog, regular 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.

If you are unsure if your pet is overweight or suffering from osteoarthritis, consult this blog and speak with your veterinarian. Oftentimes pet parents are unaware that their furry family member is overweight or uncomfortable. Veterinarians are trained to assess your pet’s Body Condition Score or “BCS” (see BCS charts for Dogs and Cats to learn more) and detect pain during their physical exam. In addition to increasing controlled exercise, calorie control is also essential. Your veterinarian can help create a diet plan specific to your pet’s needs. Maintaining an ideal body weight is crucial in minimizing discomfort related to osteoarthritis.

If your dog or cat needs more help with his/her osteoarthritis beyond weight loss and customary medications, consult with a veterinarian regarding treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Stem cells have demonstrated the ability to reduce pain and inflammation and to aid in the repair of damaged joints. Need a list of VetStem providers in your area? Contact us here.

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Jun 26, 2020

New Checklist to Help Detect Osteoarthritis Pain in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Cat Stem Cells

When we think of arthritis in our pets, most of us immediately think of dogs. We have all heard about or experienced firsthand dogs with arthritic joints. But what about cats? Well, the truth is, osteoarthritis (OA) in cats is a lot more common than you may think. It is estimated that 45% of all cats and 90% of cats over age 10 are affected by arthritis in some way. Unfortunately, feline arthritis tends to go undiagnosed.

Symptoms of OA in Cats

With such a high percentage of cats potentially affected by arthritis, why is the problem underdiagnosed? The most obvious answer is that most pet owners do not know that their cat has OA because the signs are different than in dogs. The typical symptoms we see in dogs such as limping, stiffness, and pain, are generally not present or are much less noticeable in cats with the same ailment. Cats do not present pain in the same way dogs might. For instance, they do not generally vocalize pain and instead of limping, cats might not jump as well or as high. Knowing the signs is key to helping your veterinarian determine if your cat is affected by OA.

New Checklist to Check for Early Signs of OA

Because cats tend to hide their ailments well, researchers set out to develop a new checklist to help both cat owners and veterinarians determine if a cat is affected by pain associated with OA, also knows as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). The recent publication analyzed and compiled data from previously conducted studies to develop a short checklist that veterinarians can use to help detect pain associated with DJD. 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.)

What to Do If You Think Your Cat May Have OA

If you answered no to any of the above questions and your cat hasn’t suffered any obvious injury that you know of, this might indicate that your cat may have OA. The first thing to do is make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the diagnosis. If it is confirmed that your cat has OA, there are several treatment options that may bring your cat relief. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons recommends a multi-modal approach to pain management for arthritic cats. This may include weight management, physical rehabilitation and certain medications. If your cat is prescribed medication for pain, it is important to monitor them closely with your veterinarian to check for adverse side effects.

Stem cell therapy is another natural treatment option for cats with OA. Like dogs, fat is collected from the patient and shipped to the VetStem laboratory. After processing, VetStem will ship your cat’s own stem cells back to the veterinarian in injectable doses. Though the majority of our clinical data is from dogs, cats have responded to VetStem Cell Therapy in a similar way to dogs. Stem cells have shown the ability to reduce pain and inflammation and thereby improve a patient’s quality of life.

If you think your cat may benefit from stem cell therapy, contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Jan 17, 2020

January is Walk Your Pet Month

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis

At VetStem, one of our goals is to educate pet owners about the prevalence and potential severity of osteoarthritis (OA) in our pets.  Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that can be debilitating.  It has even been identified as the number 2 reason for euthanasia.  Though 1 in 5 dogs in the U.S. are affected by OA, there are some steps you can take to potentially reduce or delay the symptoms of OA in your pet. 

In a previous blog, we shared some steps you can take to help reduce or delay the symptoms of OA in your pet.  One of those steps is to provide your pet with regular exercise.  While pets require varying amounts and different types of exercise, your veterinarian can help you to develop an exercise routine tailored specifically to your pet.

Since January is Walk Your Pet month, we thought it important to highlight the potential effects that regular walks can have on your pet’s joint health.  Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine states, “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 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.” 

According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking comes with several benefits which may lead to healthier joints including muscle strengthening, joint fluid circulation, and weight loss.  Weight loss is an important factor when it comes to managing pain and lameness associated with osteoarthritis.  One study found that weight loss significantly decreased lameness in obese dogs with OA.  If you’re concerned that your pet may be overweight, you can refer to this blog or contact your veterinarian. And don’t forget, cats get OA too!  Cats with OA may also benefit from exercise.  Speak to your veterinarian about the best way to exercise your cat.

Ben, getting his exercise in by hiking the Pacific Coast Trail
with his human and VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman

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Nov 15, 2019

Stem Cells for Cats: An Overview

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Cat Stem Cells

A few weeks ago, our sales and marketing team was at the American Association of Feline Practitioners conference in San Francisco, CA.  So, we thought it an appropriate time to discuss stem cell therapy for cats.  This blog will give you an overview of some of the conditions that veterinarians have treated with VetStem Cell Therapy.

Veterinarians have used VetStem Cell Therapy to treat a variety of conditions in their feline patients, one of which is osteoarthritis.  Though we primarily think of dogs when it comes to osteoarthritis, cats are not immune to the disease.  Their symptoms however may be more subdued or even unnoticeable to their owners- cats tend to be masters at hiding their illnesses.  Some signs to look out for include a decreased activity level, an inability to jump to high places, and missing the litterbox.  In addition to osteoarthritis, veterinarians have used VetStem Cell Therapy to treat cruciate ligament injuries and fractures in cats.

Veterinarians also use VetStem Cell Therapy for the treatment of internal medicine and immune-mediated diseases in cats through our Clinical Research Programs.  A large population of VetStem’s feline patients have been treated for Chronic Kidney Disease.  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.  The goal of our current clinical research program for feline Chronic Kidney Disease is to gather additional data and to better understand the effects of stem cell therapy on these cats.

Two additional clinical research programs are for the treatment of feline Gingivostomatitis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  Gingivostomatitis is a painful disease that affects the mouth of cats and can lead to full mouth teeth extractions.  Two small studies conducted at the University of California Davis in cats with full mouth teeth extractions showed favorable results after receiving stem cell therapy for this condition. VetStem believes that stem cells may help without cats having to undergo full mouth teeth extractions.  Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, inappetence, and weight loss.  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.  Since this disease can also affect dogs, VetStem is evaluating the use of stem cells in both species with this condition.

Though this is not an all-inclusive list, the above conditions are those that are most commonly treated in cats with VetStem Cell Therapy. As always, if you think your cat may benefit from stem cells, speak to your veterinarian or contact us for a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Aug 2, 2019

Tips to Help Reduce or Delay Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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