Archive for the ‘Veterinary Medicine’ Category

Jun 17, 2022

COVID-19 Vaccines for Zoo Animals

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Veterinary Medicine

You may remember that some of the first reported incidents of COVID-19 infection in animals were in zoo animals. These animals are at a higher risk of contracting COVID as a result of contact with handlers, veterinary staff, and the visiting public. Fortunately, a COVID vaccine was developed specifically for zoo animals.

COVID-19 Vaccine for Zoo Animals

The vaccine, which was developed by the global animal health company Zoetis, was formulated for animals and donated for emergency use among the great ape population at the San Diego Zoo in January of 2021. This sparked a good deal of media coverage which led to numerous requests for the vaccine from zoos and other animal facilities around the U.S. According to Zoetis, they have now donated a “total of 26,000 doses, to approximately 100 zoos and 20 conservatories, sanctuaries, and other animal organizations located across 41 states and about a dozen countries.”

A COVID vaccine for zoo animals is necessary for many reasons. For one, many zoo animals are endangered in the wild and keeping them healthy is of the utmost importance. Additionally, symptoms of COVID-19 can be difficult to treat in zoo animals and thus, it makes better sense to prevent the disease rather than treat it. The vaccine does not use live or inactivated virus, nor is it an mRNA vaccine. Instead, it is a subunit recombinant vaccine and is administered in two doses several weeks apart.

VetStem’s Work with Zoo Animals

At VetStem, we have worked with several exotic animal organizations, providing stem cell therapy for an array of diseases. We recently shared about our work with elephants suffering from a viral disease known as Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV). EEHV is a lethal viral infection that affects Asian elephants and now, increasingly, African elephants and can cause a highly fatal hemorrhagic disease.

Interestingly, it was actually our human company’s work with a COVID-19 stem cell clinical trial that led to exploring stem cells as a treatment option for EEHV. We have provided stem cell doses to several zoos in the United States who had elephants with EEHV and have gathered some promising data. Stem cells have numerous mechanisms of action, including the secretion of molecules that are anti-viral.

Maintaining the health of zoo animals, particularly those who are endangered, is crucial. Veterinarians and those in the animal health field have taken a collaborative approach, making this important endeavor a community effort. We are happy to contribute to the mission and will continue our own research to develop potentially life-saving stem cell treatments for these animals.

Share
May 27, 2022

Therapeutic Massage for Arthritis in Pets

As most of you know by now, arthritis is one of the most common diseases that afflicts pets. In fact, according to most estimates, 1 in 5 dogs is affected by osteoarthritis. Additionally, it is estimated that 40-92% of cats are affected by arthritis. There are numerous potential treatment modalities for arthritis including medications, rehabilitation, and even VetStem Cell Therapy. Another emerging treatment option is therapeutic massage.

Complementary Arthritis Treatments

When it comes to treating arthritis, a multimodal approach may be best. For instance, some pets may benefit from treatments such as rehabilitation or acupuncture, in addition to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain medications. The goal is for these treatments to complement one another to help make the animal more comfortable. One such treatment that is arguably underutilized is therapeutic massage.

Massage Therapy for Arthritis in Pets

Though it has been used for some time in human medical conditions, massage therapy is still an emerging field in the veterinary world. Unfortunately, studies of effectiveness are severely lacking. That being said, some human data, in addition to anecdotal evidence, suggests that massage therapy may be useful to improve the quality of life in pets suffering from arthritis pain.

Benefits of Massage Therapy for Arthritis in Pets

Massage therapy has multiple benefits that may lead to a reduction in arthritis symptoms. Most notably, massage promotes healthy blood flow to muscles throughout the body. This is particularly helpful to animals that have reduced activity and movement due to arthritis pain. By keeping muscles healthy and reducing atrophy, massage helps to facilitate healthy use of the body by maintaining muscle and joint function for as long as possible.

That being said, this field of therapy is still emerging so you likely won’t find it at every veterinary hospital. Additionally, the laws vary by state regarding who can legally practice massage therapy. As with any new treatment option, it is wise to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian to help make the most informed decisions for your pets.

Share
Apr 29, 2022

Supporting Veterinary Resilience for World Veterinary Day

Posted by Bob under Veterinary Medicine

April 30th is World Veterinary Day. Taking place each year on the last Saturday of April, World Veterinary Day was created in 2000 by the World Veterinary Association as an annual celebration of the veterinary profession. Each year, there is a new theme. You can read about last year’s theme here. This year, the theme is Strengthening Veterinary Resilience.

Why is Veterinary Resilience Important?

There’s no doubt that veterinary work is very rewarding. From veterinarians to technicians to researchers to administrative staff, those who work in the veterinary field are helping to advocate for the welfare of creatures who do not have a voice yet offer unconditional love. That being said, the work can also be mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing. Burnout and other health issues have risen in recent years and serving as frontline workers during the pandemic presented entirely new challenges.

Veterinary care. Vet doctor and dog Jack Russell Terrier

According to the World Veterinary Association, “Veterinarians, much like their patients, need proper tools and support to maintain their personal health and wellness. Healthy animals require healthy advocates. Resilient veterinarians are better equipped to handle the daily challenges and crises that may occur in their practices.” While many would argue that those in the veterinary field are a very resilient bunch, the WVA claims that veterinary resilience “requires appropriate support by associations, institutions, and governments to ensure adequate education, training, mentorship, and collegiality. It also requires ongoing research to better understand the mental and physical burdens veterinarians face and the opportunities to provide greater support.”

VetStem Fosters Veterinary Resilience

The majority of VetStem employees came to VetStem with prior experience in a veterinary clinic. Collectively, our team has been in this field for a very, very long time. And while we consider ourselves extremely lucky to be in this life-saving field, we also recognize the need for increased resilience support.

In an effort to support our veterinary clients, VetStem offers numerous free services to help them provide the best experience for their patients and clients when it comes to stem cell therapy. Some of these services include patient-specific veterinarian consultations, interactive and non-interactive trainings for veterinarians and their staff, as well as continued research in the field of regenerative veterinary medicine.

Much of our research has focused on utilizing stem cell therapy to treat difficult yet prevalent diseases with limited treatment options. Numerous animals have been treated under VetStem’s clinical research programs and have experienced a better quality of life after treatment. For instance, over 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for feline renal disease, one of the top causes of sickness and death in cats. Doing the research and collecting the continual data for this clinical research program has enabled us to help veterinarians treat sick cats who may have had no other treatment options.

Thus, while we don’t work directly with animals at VetStem, we do our best to support our veterinary clients in their efforts to provide stem cell therapy to their patients. And we pledge to continue our research so that we can develop additional regenerative medicine treatment options and products for the animals who need them.

Share
Apr 15, 2022

VetStem Sponsors Veterinary Pain Management Forum

Last week, The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) hosted the first Pain Management Forum in Denver, CO. VetStem team members Kristi Hauta, Dr. Amber Vibert, and Dr. Anne Hale attended the conference to provide education on all things regenerative medicine, and to learn more about the most current research in pain and pain management. VetStem also proudly sponsored a dry lab with a long-time VetStem user and current president of the IVAPM, Dr. Douglas Stramel.

VetStem’s Dr. Amber Vibert worked with Dr. Stramel to explain the Platelet Rich Plasma process to dry lab attendees.

The IVAPM seeks to “advocate for best practices in the treatment of animals in pain.” The IVAPM was originally known as the Companion Animal Pain Management Consortium and was co-founded in 2001 by long-time VetStem client and collaborator, Dr. Jamie Gaynor. The Academy provides educational resources including a program to become a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner (CVPP) as well as online resources for veterinary professionals and animal owners. The IVAPM outreach in the veterinary community also consists of research funding and scholarships to help promote the welfare of animals around the world.

What we found at this intimate conference was a passionate group of people who work tirelessly to provide evidence-based education for veterinary professionals and pet owners so we can become more skilled in recognizing, understanding, and alleviating animal pain. We were privileged to have lectures provided by several experts in this field including multiple members of the IVAPM board of directors.

VetStem’s mission to improve the quality of life of animals and humans starts with understanding, treating, and preventing pain through regenerative medicine. Only through open communication of ideas, research, and collaboration with our colleagues throughout the world can we achieve this goal. Attending the Pain Management Forum and connecting with IVAPM members certainly brought these goals further into fruition.

If you think your pet may be in pain, you can use these online resources to help you learn more: Animal Owners – IVAPM, The Feline Grimace Scale, The Horse Grimace Scale, and Canine and Feline Pain Scales. But as always, your veterinarian is your best resource to assess your pet’s condition. To find out if regenerative medicine can help, click here.

Share
Mar 18, 2022

VetStem Exhibits at Western Veterinary Conference

Posted by Bob under Veterinary Medicine, VetStem

The VetStem sales and marketing team spent several days last week at a veterinary conference in Las Vegas. The annual Western Veterinary Conference is one of the biggest veterinary industry shows in the nation and VetStem has exhibited at this show for over 15 years.  

We always enjoy getting out in front of our community and meeting both current and potential future clients. These veterinary shows allow us to educate veterinarians and veterinary technicians about VetStem Cell Therapy and how they can implement this therapeutic modality in their practice. Many veterinarians show interest in our clinical research programs, as these conditions tend to have limited treatment options.  

We also love being around our industry colleagues. Veterinary exhibit halls are a great place to look for new ideas and ways in which we can expand VetStem’s product offerings. Plus, there are always several pets roaming the exhibit hall, including our very own Ben! Ben loves meeting new faces in the VetStem booth.  

This year, we did an overhaul of our booth design and offerings. Check out some fun pictures below. 

Share
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!

Share
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

Share
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.

Share
Aug 20, 2021

National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day

Posted by Bob under Cats, Veterinary Medicine

Hello fellow cat lovers! Did you know August 22nd is National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day? This is a day to remind cat owners of the importance of routine check-ups and the perfect opportunity to schedule your cat’s routine exam if needed! Of course, most of us know that taking some cats to the vet can be a stressful experience for both cat and owner alike. Thus, we would like to share some helpful information about ways to potentially reduce stress leading up to your cat’s exam and also ways in which to prepare.

Cat Ownership and Veterinary Visits in the U.S.

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! That being said, additional statistics from the AVMA indicate that dogs in the United States visit veterinarians more frequently than cats. There are likely a number of reasons for this, one of which may be related to the stress on your cat when visiting the vet.

Ways to Reduce Stress When Taking Your Cat to the Vet

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has provided some helpful information to help both cat owners and cats be more prepared and feel less anxious about vet visits. The AAFP lists five ways to reduce stress when taking your cat to the vet. The first is carrier acclimation. Rather than storing the carrier in the back of your closet, keep it out in an area where your cat spends a lot of time. Add familiar bedding and toys and cover it with a blanket or towel. This will let your cat know the carrier doesn’t have to be a scary place and can actually be comfortable!

Other methods to reduce stress on your cat involve food. The AAFP states that withholding food from your cat for several hours before traveling can help to avoid motion sickness. That being said, you should consider consulting with your vet before withholding food from elderly or sick cats. On the flip side, you can bring your cats favorite treats along and use these as a reward or distraction to help reduce any stress your cat may experience at the vet. Bringing along some of your cat’s favorite toys or familiar bedding can also help your cat feel more comfortable.

There is also the option of anti-anxiety medication. While this shouldn’t be a first resort for all cats, some cats may never feel comfortable at the vet, no matter how many treats and toys you provide. Speak to your veterinarian if you think your cat may benefit from anti-anxiety medication when going in for a check-up.

Ways to Prepare for Your Cat’s Vet Visit

One important way to prepare for your cat’s vet visit is actually stated above: leave the carrier out with familiar bedding and toys. While it may take some time for your cat to become comfortable with the carrier, it can make getting your cat into the carrier easier when the time comes to leave for the vet. Another way to prepare is to jot down any questions or concerns you have regarding your cat. This will help to expedite the visit and will also help you not forget anything when speaking to the vet. Additionally, it may be helpful to compile and bring any previous medical records for your cat.

For more helpful tips from AAFP, visit their website.

Share
Apr 23, 2021

April 24th is World Veterinary Day

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Veterinary Medicine

World Veterinary Day is an annual holiday created by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) to “…promote the veterinary profession and work on improving animal and human welfare, the environment, food safety, animal transport, and quarantine.” It is celebrated on the last Saturday of every April and this year is the 20th anniversary of its first celebration. Each year there is a theme and this year’s theme is, “Veterinarian Response to the COVID-19 Crisis.”

The year 2020 brought some serious challenges, and many people stepped up in exceptional ways to meet those challenges. Veterinary professionals were among those people. Animals did not stop needing care, and in fact, so many dogs and cats were adopted from shelters in 2020 that some shelters were completely emptied out at times! In addition, pet owners brought their existing pets to the vet more often in 2020 than they had in the past. Pet owners reported that quarantine and social distancing from other humans changed their relationship with their pets by fostering the human-animal bond and thus, they were more attune to their pet’s health needs. This meant that veterinary visits increased during a time when staff were being furloughed and social distancing was mandated. Veterinarians responded as they always do, with grace and fortitude. They navigated these uncharted waters by developing curbside service, telemedicine platforms, and fought for the right to be considered essential workers so they could keep the doors open for animals in need. Veterinary professionals forged ahead with the difficult task of maintaining a high level of pet care while trying to keep themselves, their staff and pet owners safe and healthy during a time of ever-changing rules and regulations.

Veterinarians also demonstrated the breadth of their caregiving spirit during this past year. They donated supplies to the human medical community, including PPE and respiratory ventilators early in the pandemic when resources were scarce, critical illness rates were high, and the disease was spreading rapidly. Then in April 2020, Great Britain called for assistance from their veterinarians to act as respiratory assistants. New York City asked veterinarians to care for the bodies of those who passed, ensuring they were treated with dignity and respect. And more recently, veterinarians in the United States have been authorized to administer COVID vaccines to their fellow humans in need, prompting the USDA to swiftly deploy their vets to aid in this monumentally important endeavor.

Equally as important as all the brave souls in the typical clinical practice setting, were the veterinarians that the public might not think of when they think of a “vet.” Agricultural veterinarians continued to make sure our food sources were safe and remained in steady supply. Veterinary pathologists, virologists, and epidemiologists diagnosed, studied, and reported on COVID-19 infections in animals, helping to assure the public that pets were considered a low risk for spreading the disease to humans. Veterinary medical school professors, like other teachers, found new ways to train their students when they could not be together in the classroom or the hospital. Government and private sector-employed laboratory veterinarians were among those in the medical and pharmaceutical fields working tirelessly to create COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Veterinarians in the biotechnology field, such as veterinarian led VetStem, promoted the “One Health” sometimes termed, “One Medicine” concept by collaborating with the human medical community and sharing their wealth of knowledge about coronaviruses across different animal species. You can learn more about One Health here. To that end, VetStem Biopharma and sister company, Personalized Stem Cells, jumped into action in 2020, gaining FDA approval to begin a clinical trial treating human COVID-19 patients with stem cells. By March 2021 we celebrated the successful treatment of nine people who had been significantly afflicted with the disease. These patients had all been in a hospital ICU, and after receiving intravenous (IV) treatments with stem cells, they all made it back home to their families. This is a relatively small number of patients, but the results are certainly promising.

Despite the chaos, uncertainty, and heartbreak that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to this world, veterinarians have been steadfast in their dedication to promote the health and safety of all beings on this Earth, and I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to be a member of this special group of people.

Share