Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

May 6, 2022

Responsible Pet Ownership: Celebrating National Pet Week

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Dog Ownership, Pets

This week is National Pet Week. While it technically ends tomorrow, it’s not too late to celebrate your furry companions! National Pet Week was created in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Auxiliary to the AVMA. It is celebrated each year during the first full week of May to encourage responsible pet care and to celebrate the bond between pets and their people.

National Pet Week Themes

Smiling woman and her cat at the veterinary clinic, a doctor is examining the pet

Each day of National Pet Week has a specific theme that relates to responsible pet ownership:

  • Sunday: Choose well: Commit for life
  • Monday: Socialize now: New doesn’t have to be scary
  • Tuesday: Nutrition and exercise matter
  • Wednesday: Love your pet? See your vet!
  • Thursday: Travel with care
  • Friday: Emergencies happen: Be prepared
  • Saturday: Plan for their care: Give them a lifetime of love

You can read about each theme and find pet owner resources here.

The Cost of Pet Ownership

While responsible pet care has many facets, one important factor to consider is the financial aspect of owning pets. Recently, it has come to light that many pet owners underestimate the cost of pet ownership. In a survey of 1,200 pet owners and 100 veterinarians, nearly half of the pet owner respondents admitted they had underestimated the lifetime cost of their pet(s). Additionally, approximately half of the pet owners thought they were financially prepared for unexpected pet expenses and realized they were not.

Routine Veterinary Care

Another factor of responsible pet ownership is routine preventative veterinary care. On this blog, we frequently talk about diseases and ailments which may prompt visits to the vet. But routine care is very important to maintaining your pet’s health. Preventative care, such as regular wellness exams and routine tests, can lead to the detection and diagnosis of problems that may otherwise go unnoticed until it is too late. If a problem is detected in its early stages, it is more likely to be treated and resolved with less expense, less difficulty, and better success.

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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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Feb 4, 2022

Understanding the Cost of Pet Ownership

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Dog Ownership, Pets

Pet ownership is very rewarding for most pet owners. The companionship and unconditional love that we receive from our pets has been shown to improve our moods and reduce loneliness. Unfortunately, these benefits come at a cost. One that, according to a recent survey conducted by financial services company, Synchrony, is often underestimated.

The Cost of Pet Ownership

It should come as no surprise that pet ownership is not free. In order to properly care for our pets, we must provide them with food, shelter, enrichment, and veterinary care. According to research conducted by Synchrony, a financial services company that owns CareCredit and Pets Best Pet Insurance, the estimated lifetime cost of a dog ranges from $20,000 to $55,000 while the estimated lifetime cost of a cat ranges from $15,000 to $45,000. In just the first year, a dog can cost anywhere from $1,300 to $2,800, while first-year cat care is approximately $960 to $2,500.

Many Owners Underestimate the Cost of Pet Ownership

Synchrony conducted a survey of 1,200 pet owners and 100 veterinarians to determine if pet owners understand the cost of pet ownership. Unfortunately, nearly half of the pet owner respondents admitted they had underestimated the lifetime cost of their pet(s). Additionally, approximately half of the pet owners thought they were financially prepared for unexpected pet expenses and realized they were not. Click here to view the report.

Veterinarians often witness this firsthand. While many pet parents are prepared for routine costs such as yearly exams and vaccinations, it is the unexpected veterinary expenses that often take pet owners by surprise. These include unpredictable illnesses and injuries that require prompt and sometimes extensive or ongoing care. This is when a pet savings account or pet insurance can come in handy.

Pet Insurance Covers VetStem Cell Therapy

Speaking of pet insurance, did you know that VetStem Cell Therapy is covered by most of the major pet insurance companies? Several of our pet owner clients have received reduced costs for stem cell therapy and also stem cell banking. Keep in mind however that It’s important to check with your insurance company regarding restrictions when it comes to covering stem cell therapy or any other veterinary services.

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Jan 28, 2022

VetStem CEO Featured on Local Podcast

Posted by Bob under Pets, VetStem

Recently, our very own Dr. Bob Harman was featured on a local podcast. In it, Dr. Harman discusses how VetStem Cell Therapy works and what our overall mission is. He briefly discusses our human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells, and the recently concluded clinical trial for knee osteoarthritis. He also talks a bit about the pet community and how education about lesser-known veterinary procedures, such as stem cell therapy, is so important. Click here to listen to the podcast. We think you’ll enjoy it!

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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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Dec 10, 2021

Dietary Supplements for Pets and How to Choose Them Wisely

Posted by Bob under Pets, Veterinary Medicine

We have a special guest blog this week from VetStem veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert. Dr. Vibert discusses dietary supplements for animals and how you can educate yourself to pick the best supplements for your pets. Check it out below.

In 2020, the global value of the human dietary supplement industry was estimated at $170.4 billion with the US market making up $46 billion of that value. Pet markets often follow closely behind the trends of human markets, so it’s no surprise that US pet owners spent $800 million on pet supplements in 2020 (a 21% increase in sales from 2019). It’s a booming industry but it can also be very confusing for pet parents when it comes to not only understanding what dietary supplements are (and what they are not) but also choosing ones that are safe and effective. We are bombarded every day with the marketing of pet products, and unfortunately, when it comes to supplements, good marketing tactics often win over good science.

First, dietary supplements are just that, supplemental. Meaning, that as long as your pet is eating a nutritionally balanced diet, and is overall healthy, there is no need to supplement their diet with vitamins, minerals, herbs, or system-supportive products (e.g., joint support, skin support). Not only is there not a need to supplement but doing so can actually be harmful. However, if your pet has a medical condition, supplements may be beneficial.

Being that dietary supplements, sometimes referred to as “nutraceuticals”, are not considered to be food, food additives, or drugs, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Meaning there is no review of product safety, efficacy, or quality control (i.e., making sure each and every pill in every single bottle contains what the label says it contains). One might think that just requiring FDA approval for supplements would un-muddy the waters and make the world a safer place. However, the process for each new drug application can take years for approval and costs thousands to millions of dollars for the manufacturers which can increase the cost to the consumer. The FDA only gets involved if there is proof that a dietary supplement is unsafe. And I’m just talking about human supplements- pet-specific supplements receive even less governance. So, educating yourself is the best way to find safe and effective products.

The best way to educate yourself about pet supplements is to start with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian has the education and training to help you decide if your pet would benefit from a supplement and which supplements are backed by proven safety and efficacy studies. There is surprisingly little proven data out there for humans or animals regarding the effectiveness of most nutraceuticals. Your veterinarian can also tell you whether a supplement could negatively interact with other medications that your pet is taking. Just because a product is marketed as “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe for your pet.

After speaking with your veterinarian, it’s a good idea to do some of your own homework as well so you can continue to have a well-informed dialogue about keeping your pet safe, happy, and healthy. Click here to read a great article from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on pet supplements and links below to the US Pharmacopeia (USP) and Consumerlab.com for information about product testing for verification of safety and quality control of specific products.

USP Verification Services | USP

Independent Tests and Reviews of Vitamin, Mineral, and Herbal Supplements | ConsumerLab.com

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Nov 5, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy Helps Senior Pets Too

Posted by Bob under Pets, VetStem Cell Therapy

November is National Senior Pet Month. According to the AVMA, cats and small dogs are generally considered seniors at the age of seven. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter lifespans and are considered seniors around five to six years of age. Like people, an older pet is more likely to develop diseases such as heart, kidney, and liver disease as well as cancer and osteoarthritis (OA).

Will VetStem Cell Therapy Help My Senior Pet?

We are often asked whether VetStem Cell Therapy will help senior pets. Generally speaking, younger stem cells tend to be healthier and therefore may be more efficient at performing their various jobs. That being said, many senior pets have been treated with VetStem Cell Therapy and have experienced great results.

One example is Molly, a Labrador who received VetStem Cell Therapy when she was approximately twelve and a half years old. Molly had severe OA and a potential spinal condition that made her suddenly unable to walk or support herself. Her owners elected to have Molly treated with VetStem Cell Therapy and were very pleased with the results. Just two weeks after her stem cell injections, Molly was able to support her own weight with assistance. At her one-month recheck appointment, Molly was able to take a few steps. And just shy of two months post-stem cell therapy, Molly was walking on her own again. Her owner stated, “She is walking again on her own and without assistance, and she is definitely limping less on that front elbow. While we do realize at her age and the severity of arthritis in her joints that she won’t be a puppy again, I would definitely expect her to continue to improve and continue to be mobile. I would do this again for her in a heartbeat, and we are so thankful this technology exists. Thank you, VetStem, for giving us back our happy girl.”

VetStem Cell Therapy for Alternative Conditions in Seniors

As stated above, senior pets are more prone to organ diseases such as kidney failure. Fortunately, VetStem Cell Therapy may help with that too! Many patients, mostly cats but some dogs as well, have received stem cell therapy for kidney disease.

One such patient was a senior cat named Trinity. Trinity was twelve years old when she was diagnosed with renal disease. She had several symptoms including vomiting, not eating, lethargy, weakness, and weight loss. Additionally, she was uninterested and spent a lot of time hiding. Several months after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, Trinity’s bloodwork showed no signs of kidney disease. She started eating again and gained back all the weight she had lost. Her owner stated, “I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to spend so many more years with Trinity.”

So, as you can see, VetStem Cell Therapy isn’t just for young pets. Senior pets have benefitted from stem cell therapy too! If you think your senior pet may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian, or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Oct 29, 2021

Cats Are Not Small Dogs: Understanding the Differences

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Cats, Pets, Veterinary Medicine

Today is National Cat Day! And we never miss an opportunity to discuss felines! Check out our latest blog from VetStem veterinarian, Dr. Amber Vibert.

I think we are all pretty aware that cats and dogs are different in many ways. Dogs tend to be pleasers and cats often make their humans work for their trust and respect. Dogs don’t really care if they are dirty or have something stuck in their fur, but cats on the other hand, cannot stand to be soiled in any way and will work fastidiously to keep themselves clean. And if a dog is caught counter-surfing for the sandwich that someone left unattended, he will cower when he is admonished. Cats will look at you as if to say, “So?” and quickly scurry away with a piece of ham in their mouth. Of course, there are exceptions, but in my experience, these characteristics are more often the rule than the exception.

Beyond their unique personality differences, however, there are several physical and psychological differences that are important to understand when approaching each species from a caregiving standpoint. For example, dogs have a ligament in their neck that  helps to keep the head erect if the neck muscles are weak. Cats lack this ligament, so when they experience illnesses that cause profound muscle weakness such as hypokalemia (low potassium) or advanced stages of kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism, they may become unable to lift their head.

Another example of how cats and dogs differ is with respect to their nutritional needs. We know that every species of animal on the planet consumes different kinds of foods to sustain their bodies. But many people don’t realize that cats and dogs have such significant differences that feeding a cat only dog food can cause heart disease and even death. One of the reasons for this is because cats have different essential amino acid needs. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. An amino acid is termed “essential” to a species when that species needs to consume the amino acid through their food in order to survive. Taurine is essential for cats and not as much for dogs, meaning that dogs produce enough of it in their bodies that they really don’t need as much in their food. So high-quality, well-established, commercial cat foods are specifically designed to provide the correct amount of taurine to keep cats healthy.

Furthermore, cats metabolize certain drugs very differently than dogs. For instance, did you know that although dogs can safely be prescribed low doses of Tylenol (acetaminophen), a single regular strength tablet can kill a cat? Both dogs and cats have a limited ability to metabolize this drug compared to humans, but cats have a really limited capacity and it will render their red blood cells unable to carry enough oxygen to live.

Cats also have unique needs when it comes to their surroundings. They have natural instincts to chase prey, climb and perch off the ground, control their own personal space, and use scent to establish their boundaries by rubbing their faces along people or items in their home. If these environmental needs are not met, not only will cats experience high levels of stress, but they can also develop stress-induced medical issues.

VetStem recognizes and embraces the fact that cats are not small dogs. We understand that cats not only have diseases unique to them such as Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS), but they also exhibit symptoms of illness very differently than dogs do. In particular, cats are particularly adept at hiding pain. This is why many cats go undiagnosed for common painful conditions such as degenerative joint disease (DJD). We encourage you to speak to your family veterinarian about establishing regular veterinary checkups for your beloved cat companions to keep them happy and healthy through all stages of life.

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Jun 11, 2021

June 6th-12th is Pet Appreciation Week

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Dog Ownership, Pets

June 6th-12th is Pet Appreciation Week and to get in the spirit, we asked a few of our staff why they appreciate their animals. Read what they had to say below.

Kristi, Director of Commercial Operations: I know that no matter how bad of a day I have had, I can always count on one of my cats to come sit on my lap and make me feel needed and loved. As for my Newfie, I appreciate how great Elphie is with my kids, her loving temperament and gentle demeanor. She is also a big goofball that makes me smile daily.


Veronika, Customer Service Manager: I have always had big dogs and did not expect to fall crazy in love with this little cow-spotted critter. She is a total joy and a source of constant comedy and is the most loving and trusting little thing. According to my son, Darby is the “completion to the family” and he loves that she is convinced she is not a small Frenchie but a giant Rottweiler.


Dr. Carolyn Wrightston, COO: Born about one month apart, these two boys are brothers from another mother. Jasper makes the greatest faces. Koda is a big lover – and totally food driven.


Ashley, Marketing Assistant: These three fuzzy creatures love unconditionally. Willow is such a good guard dog and the cats just sleep and cuddle all day. They are so good with our rowdy toddler, despite all of her poking and prodding and attempts to ‘ride’ them.


Dr. Bob Harman, CEO: Ben is not only my hiking companion, he also serves to alert me to the presence of rattlesnakes when on the trail. He’s a great hiker and even carries all of his own supplies in his pack.


Whitney, Customer Service Representative: Although all four of my cats are great, I am really smitten with Ali’i. Every time I lay eyes on her, I am filled with delight. She is affectionate, playful, and seems to be as fond of me as I am of her. And don’t tell the other three dogs, but Duncan is my favorite canine child- he is naughty as can be, but also very much a Momma’s boy.


Roberta, Account Relationship Manager: Will Roger’s said it best, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.” That quote pretty much sums up the love and appreciation I have for my dogs. They are the most selfless, loyal, humorous, and unconditionally loving creatures I know. So, to Huggy, Mira and Trace, my four-legged best friends, in celebration of Pet Appreciation Week, I promise, I’ll buy that new kiddie pool and leave the chopped greens out of your dinner tonight.


Dr. Amber Vibert, Safety and Technical Services Veterinarian: I appreciate Rally for the joy she brings to my life and to the lives of those she encounters. Her sweet, smart, intuitive, and playful nature fills my heart with the most pure love, translated from that joy.

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