Archive for the ‘Dog Arthritis’ Category

Mar 13, 2020

Happy K9 Veterans Day!

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Stem Cells

Today is National K9 Veterans Day, an unofficial holiday where we commemorate the service and sacrifices of all United States military and working dogs.  It was on March 13, 1942 that dogs first began training for the new War Dog program, and officially became a part of the U.S. Armed Forces.

VetStem has a bit of history with a famous K9 Veteran.  Though he is now deceased, Lex’s story was shared far and wide, a real tearjerker.  We have shared this story before, but we believe it deserves to be shared again. 

Lex was a bomb-sniffing German shepherd who served two tours in Iraq.  In 2007, Lex was on duty in Iraq with his handler and best friend, 20-year-old Corporal Dustin Lee.  On March 21, 2007, Cpl. Lee’s base was attacked, and a 73 mm rocket explosion killed Cpl. Lee.  Lex was also injured in the attack however was said to have laid upon Cpl. Lee in an attempt to protect him.  Later, it was said that Lex had to be pulled away from Cpl. Lee to allow medics to attend to him.  Unfortunately, Cpl. Dustin Lee succumbed to his injuries and passed away shortly after being taken to a nearby hospital.  This was just six weeks before Cpl. Lee was scheduled to return home.

Lex also sustained injuries in the attack.  His fur was burned and shrapnel was lodged in his back and spine.  After returning home and attending the funeral of his friend Cpl. Lee, Lex returned to duty at the Marine Corps base in Georgia.  Cpl. Lee’s family however lobbied for months to adopt Lex and in December 2007, Lex was officially discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps and taken home to his new family in Mississippi.

But Lex’s story doesn’t end there.  Due to his injuries and the shrapnel that was still lodged in his body, Lex developed degenerative joint disease.  His osteoarthritis became a problem, causing pain and mobility issues.  That’s where VetStem comes in.  Lex was taken to Dr. Lee Morgan of Georgetown Veterinary Hospital who recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.  In 2010, Lex received injections of his own stem cells in his left hip and knee as well as intravenously.  Lex initially had a great response to treatment and regained the ability go up stairs.

In addition to Lex, VetStem has provided stem cell therapy services for several law enforcement and search and rescue dogs.  Though their stories may not be as dramatic as Lex’s, working dogs face rigorous physical activity and the potential for injury while on the job or later down the line after years of wear and tear on their joints.  Just like their two-legged partners, they are willing to sacrifice it all for the safety of others.  And for that, we honor all K9 veterans and working dogs alike.

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Mar 6, 2020

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Receives Stem Cells for Elbow OA

At just 14 weeks old, Trusty walked with a slight limp and had difficulty with stairs.  Even for a purebred Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, he was large for his breed.  As he grew, his limp continued to worsen, and it was obvious he was in pain.  This was especially problematic because Trusty lives on a 40-acre apple orchard in the Pacific Northwest with his human family and several other active dogs.

Trusty (back right) and his canine siblings on the apple orchard

Diagnosing Trusty’s leg issue proved to be very difficult.  After 10 travel appointments, X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds, Trusty was eventually referred to veterinary surgeon Dr. Kristin Kirkby Shaw of Animal Surgical Clinic of Seattle.  After additional imaging and arthroscopy, Dr. Kirkby Shaw diagnosed Trusty with Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP) and osteoarthritis of the left elbow.  She recommended surgery in addition to treatment with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.  

In August 2019, Trusty received an injection of his own stem cells into his ailing left elbow.  According to his owner, Trusty recovered almost immediately from his surgery and was walking without a limp at two weeks post-surgery.  Approximately six weeks after the procedure, Trusty was feeling great and running around the property, playing with his dog siblings.  Trusty’s owner stated, “It’s really the first time in his life he has been able to run! We are very happy for him, thankful to Dr. Kirkby Shaw for her skills and knowledge and to VetStem Biopharma for providing us with this tremendous healing technology which we know has been a huge factor in Trusty’s recovery.”

Trusty

Trusty’s stem cell success story is reminiscent of Sheldon’s, who also received VetStem Cell Therapy for osteoarthritis related to FCP.  Unfortunately, this condition is not uncommon in large breed dogs such as Trusty and Sheldon.  If your dog has been diagnosed with FCP or osteoarthritis, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treating your dog with VetStem Cell Therapy.  Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Jan 24, 2020

Labrador Retriever Stops Pain Meds After Stem Cell Therapy

At just four months old, Tucker, a Labrador retriever, was limping and lame.  At one year of age, he was diagnosed with bilateral hip and elbow dysplasia.  His veterinarian prescribed him pain medications as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).  After four years of continuous medication and restricted physical activity, Tucker’s owners were introduced to VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy as a potential treatment option for osteoarthritis in his hips and elbows.

To begin the process, Dr. Glenn Behan of Barnegat Animal Clinic collected Tucker’s fat tissue and sent it off to the VetStem laboratory in January 2019. Once received, VetStem lab technicians processed the fat to extract Tucker’s stem and regenerative cells for injectable stem cell doses. Tucker’s stem cell injections were sent back to Dr. Behan and, approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection, Tucker received one injection into each hip and each elbow.

At just one month post stem cell therapy, Tucker’s owners noticed his energy level was up, he could get up and down with more ease, and stairs were easier to climb. After approximately six weeks, Tucker could walk further distances and his limp subsided. His owner stated, “He was able to actually run on the beach and through the surf for the first time without pain. There was almost a hop in his step which we had never seen before.”  In a 90-day follow up survey, Tucker’s owner reported that he was able to discontinue his pain and anti-inflammatory medication and his quality of life was significantly improved.

Tucker, enjoying the beach after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy

Approximately seven months post stem cell therapy, Tucker continued to do great. With his increased activity, he lost ten pounds and was getting around so much better. He would go on walks, up and down stairs and even began jumping on the bed, which he could not do before. He also played a lot more with his little brother. At that point in time, he continued to not require pain or anti-inflammatory medication.

Tucker lost 10lbs due to his increased activity level

It has been approximately one year since Tucker’s stem cell therapy and he has not required additional stem cell treatments.  Like Tucker, some dogs are able to reduce or discontinue pain and/or anti-inflammatory medications after receiving VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.  It is important to point out that NSAID use can lead to gastrointestinal upset and organ damage, which is why most veterinarians advise against long-term use of NSAIDs.

If you think your dog may benefit from stem cell therapy, speak to your veterinarian or 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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Jan 10, 2020

Life is Better with Stem Cells: Ember’s Story

For our first blog of the new year, we thought we would try something a little different.  This week, we have a guest blog submitted by dog owner Virginia regarding her dog Ember and her stem cell story.  Ember received VetStem Cell Therapy after she was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia.  She’s feeling much better and…well, we’ll let Ember tell her story…

Hi,

My name is Ember and I am a 4-year-old Newfoundland. I’m writing this because I was asked to tell my story.

In my family we are first and foremost companions to our people, we live side by side with them.  But we have other jobs as well.  One is we do a lot of social and therapy work to bring smiles to people.  Our other career is to be “show dogs.”  Being social dogs, we like both our jobs.

But things changed for me when we discovered that I had bilateral elbow dysplasia confirmed by OFA x-rays.  Sometimes I would limp a bit, other times not.  When I was 2 and 1/2, I started limping and did not stop for months.  That was not fun, and I did not feel like playing with all my friends at home (I have a big family). 

Then on “My Lady’s” birthday her best friend (and my first home) gave her the gift of stem cell therapy for me.  She seemed excited; I did not know what she was talking about at all.  I just go with the flow so I wagged my tail. 

Before stem cell therapy, I was lame and really didn’t play as much as I wanted to.  It is over 5 months now from my injections and I feel a lot better!  I am my happy self, I play with my friends, even the puppy.  I am more active and can get in bed to sleep with my people at night.  I am not lame anymore.  My movement is so much better and I am pain free. 

I am very grateful to My Lady’s friend for giving such a thoughtful gift.  It has made a huge difference for me.  I want to say thank you to all the people who worked hard so this option could be made available for us dogs. 

Life is better with stem cells.

Love,

Ember

Ember
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Dec 6, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Adam Gassel, DVM, DACVS

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Stem Cells

In this week’s veterinarian highlight, we’d like to introduce you to veterinary surgeon and VetStem user Dr. Adam Gassel.  Dr. Gassel practices at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Irvine, California.  He received his DVM from Purdue University in 1991 and pursued an internship with Animal Specialty Group in Los Angeles.  He then completed a surgical residency at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and became a board-certified veterinary surgeon in 2007.

Dr. Gassel’s surgical interests include TPLO (a surgery to stabilize the knee), portosystemic shunts, surgical oncology, and minimally invasive procedures, particularly arthroscopy and laparoscopy.  Dr. Gassel frequently incorporates VetStem Cell Therapy into his orthopedic surgeries for things like joint dysplasia/osteoarthritis and Fragmented Coronoid Process.  He has treated 125 patients utilizing VetStem Cell Therapy and is part of the VetStem Centenniel Club.

We recently asked Dr. Gassel a few questions about his use of VetStem Cell Therapy.  See his answers below regarding his specific experiences.

Why do you find VetStem Cell Therapy to be a valuable addition to your practice?

VetStem Cell Therapy is a valuable tool because of the ability of regenerative medicine (stem cells) to treat acute and chronic pain associated with tissue trauma and chronic degenerative joint disease.  We perform a variety of surgical procedures at our practice and I have been using stem cells primarily and as an adjuvant for my patients over the past 12 years.  VetStem Cell Therapy is a natural alternative to traditional medications used to treat chronic osteoarthritis, especially for patients that cannot tolerate the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  We can stabilize a torn cranial cruciate ligament and remove cartilage fragments from a damaged elbow, but we cannot replace the damaged cartilage that can result from the initial injury.  In my opinion, this is when regenerative medicine can play a vital role in treating chronic pain and inflammation associated with these injuries.  Ongoing arthritis can be a debilitating and frustrating disease for our patients and their families.  Regenerative stem cell therapy provides us with a safe and efficacious way of treating these patients to improve their quality of life.    

As a surgeon, do you primarily recommend stem cell therapy in addition to surgery or in lieu of surgery?  Please explain your answer.

This determination is made on a case by case basis.  There are a variety of procedures in which stem cell therapy is used in combination with surgery to provide an optimal outcome.  There are certainly cases in which stem cell therapy is used in lieu of surgery mostly due to patient factors.  However, I have also been educating clients on the benefits of stem cell therapy and to consider taking advantage of the Canine StemInsure program if their pet is under anesthesia for routine prophylactic surgeries (stem cells to be stored for future use).

What advice would you give to pet owners considering stem cell therapy for their pet?

Stem cell therapy is a safe and effective way to address both acute and chronic pain caused by a variety of diseases seen in our patients.  Adipose tissue (fat) provides a rich source of stem cells that can easily be harvested with a quick and safe surgical procedure.  Once isolated and re-administered to the patient, current literature supports the ability of stem cells to reduce inflammation and pain while helping to re-build bone and soft tissue.  Pet owners should understand that there are injuries and diseases that cannot be fixed with stem cell therapy alone and should keep an open mind when consulting with the specialist.  Overall, this “cutting-edge” therapy can lengthen and improve the quality of life of their pet. 

There you have it!  Thank you Dr. Gassel for taking the time to answer our questions!  If you are located in the Irvine area and looking for an experienced stem cell provider, contact Blue Pearl Irvine for a consultation with Dr. Gassel.

Dr. Adam Gassel DVM, DACVS
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Nov 8, 2019

November is Senior Pet Month

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Stem Cells

It is officially November, which happens to be Senior Pet Month!  We wanted to highlight senior pets in this week’s blog as we all know that senior pets may be more at risk of developing osteoarthritis.  While dogs and cats of all ages may develop osteoarthritis, studies have indicated that senior dogs are more often diagnosed with osteoarthritis, in part due to the age-related break down of joint tissues such as cartilage, ligaments, and bone.

There is also speculation that senior pets are more often diagnosed with osteoarthritis because symptoms become more prevalent as the disease worsens.  Therefore, owners are more likely to notice symptoms such as limping and stiffness as their pet ages, which often leads to a trip to the veterinarian for diagnosis/treatment.

Maverick, a Golden Retriever, was adopted at 8 years old with osteoarthritis.  Fortunately, his new parents sought VetStem Cell Therapy for his condition and he experienced an improved quality of life.

VetStem Cell Therapy Recipient Maverick

It is important to note however that dogs and cats may develop osteoarthritis at any age.  For instance, if a dog is born with joint dysplasia (malformed joints), he is more likely to develop osteoarthritis at a younger age than a dog born with properly formed joints.  One example is Jack who was showing symptoms of osteoarthritis before he was even a year old.

VetStem Cell Therapy Recipient Jack

The good news is, VetStem Cell Therapy has shown to help pets, both young and old, with osteoarthritis.  Stem cells have been demonstrated to regenerate joint tissues and reduce inflammation.  They also have pain blocking mechanisms that may lead to increased comfort for painful pets.  If your pet, no matter their age, has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis or is showing signs of the disease, 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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Oct 11, 2019

Golden Retriever Gets Relief from VetStem Cell Therapy

Seve is a senior Golden Retriever who, earlier this year, was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis in his hips.  His owners noticed that his back legs would go out from under him and he seemed to be a little “gimpy.” 

After the diagnosis, his veterinarian, Dr. Cindy Echevarria of VCA University Animal Hospital recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.  Seve initially received three stem cell injections: one into each hip and one intravenously in January 2019.

Seve had a great response to his initial treatment and his mom was very pleased.  You can catch up on Seve’s story here.

When we reached out to Seve’s mom in July, she reported that he was showing symptoms of discomfort again.  His back legs became a bit less stable and started to go out from under him again.  Fortunately, Seve still had several stem cell doses banked from his initial fat collection procedure.  The doses Seve had banked were available for treatment at the request of Dr. Echevarria.

In August of 2019, Seve received his second treatment utilizing his banked stem cells.  The same injection protocol was followed: one in each hip and one intravenously.  We recently spoke with Seve’s owner and once again he had a great response to the therapy.  His owner reported that he’s feeling much better.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, so Seve’s story is a good example to point out that it is not uncommon for arthritic dogs to require additional treatments to keep them feeling comfortable.  We emphasize that every patient is different in so many ways: from severity of the disease being treated, to lifestyle, to how they handle and show pain.  Thus, it is impossible to predict how each patient will respond and we think it is important that pet owners have the proper expectations when it comes to stem cell therapy. 

What we do know is that stem cells have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, and to regenerate joint tissues, all of which may improve the quality of life for an arthritic dog like Seve.  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.

Seve
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Sep 6, 2019

Newfie Avoids Elbow Surgery with VetStem Cell Therapy

Harper is a four-year-old Landseer Newfoundland.  When she started limping at around three years of age, her owners became concerned and took her to the veterinarian.  It was determined that Harper had severe elbow dysplasia, which caused painful osteoarthritis in her elbows.  Harper’s veterinarian recommend surgery and referred her to a specialist.

Fortunately for Harper and her parents, that specialist was VetStem proponent Dr. Christopher Eich of Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital.  Dr. Eich recommended VetStem Cell Therapy in lieu of surgery.

Harper received stem cell injections in both of her elbows in October 2018.  Her owners reported that within three months, she was back to her daily walks and was even running around on the grass and at the beach!  You can read the rest of Harper’s story here.

We recently checked in on Harper and her owner reported that Harper is still doing great!  He stated, “She has had a busy Summer of road trips and making appearances at various festivals and events.  Attached is a photo of her from Special Olympics So Cal, where she greeted the athletes and took photos with them for a book.  Everyone we meet that we share her stem cell story with have all been amazed with how well she is doing!”  You can keep up with Harper and her buddies on their Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/ventures.of.harper.finn.bodhi/

If your dog has osteoarthritis caused by joint dysplasia, VetStem Cell Therapy may be a treatment option.  Speak to your veterinarian to determine if your dog is a candidate for stem cell therapy.  Or you can contact us to receive a list of VetStem credentialed veterinarians in your area.

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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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