Oct 18, 2019

How Owning Pets May Improve Our Lives

Posted by Bob under Cat Ownership, Dog Ownership

Most pet owners know that having a pet comes with many bonuses.  Pets provide companionship, entertainment, and unconditional love.  But did you know that pets may have a positive effect on our ,mental and physical health as well?

There have been several observational studies that have pointed to the potential health benefits of owning a pet.  A recent review of nearly 70 years of global research concluded that owning a dog may reduce your risk of death.  Notably, pet owners have demonstrated reduced blood pressure, lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and therefore, reduced cardiovascular disease.

It has been observed that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression, loneliness, and anxiety.  While playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, one study found that simply watching cat videos can boost energy and positive emotions while reducing negative feelings.

Dog ownership has also been linked to an increase in exercise for the owner.  Most dog owners take their dogs for walks while some choose to run or hike with their canine companion.  This also gets the owner outside and around other dog owners where you may potentially make new friends.

While most studies have pointed to dogs and/or cats, other pets may bring health benefits as well!  For example, watching a fish in an aquarium may help reduce muscle tension and lower your pulse rate.  Another example would include horse owners who may get outside frequently to care for or ride their horse(s).  This type of structure and routine can help to give you purpose while keeping you balanced and calm.

We agree that pets improve our lives in many ways and most of our employees have at least one pet.  Meet some of our employees’ pets below!

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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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Oct 4, 2019

Bunji Received Surgery and Platelet Therapy for Broken Forelimb

We recently received news that one of VetStem’s most experienced users, Dr. Jeff Christiansen, treated an extra special patient with surgery and Platelet Rich Plasma using a kit that was donated by VetStem.  But what makes this patient so special, you ask?  Well, it was a Kangaroo! 

Bunji is a 2-year-old Red Kangaroo who lives at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida.  In July during the daily morning check-in, his keepers found him injured and while it was clear he had broken bones, there was no known cause of the injury.  X-rays revealed he had fractured his radius and ulna in his right forelimb and surgery was indicated to ensure proper healing.

X-ray of Bunji’s broken limb

Dr. Christiansen, a veterinary surgical specialist, was called in for the job and performed the surgery on Bunji.  A plate was placed to hold the bones together.  He also used Bunji’s own bone marrow to aid in healing the fracture site.  Lastly, he treated Bunji with Platelet Rich Plasma utilizing the Genesis CS-2 kit, which is typically used to treat horses. 

First, Dr. Christiansen collected blood from Bunji, which he then centrifuged to concentrate the platelets.  Once the platelets were concentrated and collected, he injected the platelet rich plasma directly into Bunji’s surgical site.  Platelets, when exposed to damaged tissue, release signals to attract healing cells to both speed up and increase the quality of healing.

Bunji spent approximately two months in recovery at the zoo animal clinic before he was returned to the Kangaroo Walkabout.  He is reported to be doing well and seems happy to be reunited with his Kangaroo buddies.  Though we have not done any work with a Kangaroo before, Bunji is not the first exotic animal that VetStem veterinarians have treated.  In April, we reported that a Sun Bear at the San Diego Zoo received VetStem Cell Therapy for his arthritis.    

Bunji
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Sep 27, 2019

Signs That Your Pet May Be in Pain

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

As we close out Animal Pain Awareness Month, we wanted to leave you with some information to help you determine if your pet may be experiencing pain.  Unfortunately, pets cannot talk to us to let us know if there is a problem.  Thus, we must rely on other methods to decipher whether they are experiencing any pain.  One of the best methods to determine if your pet is in pain is to observe their behavior.

As we discussed in a recent blog, there are several causes of pain, both acute and chronic.  Acute pain may be more obvious while chronic pain may be more subtle.  Often, chronic pain is misconstrued as “getting old” but the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) is quick to point out that age is not a disease.  Pain however is a disease and pain management is important to maintain your pet’s quality of life.

So how do you know if your pet is experiencing pain?  Aside from the more obvious signs such as limping, one of the best ways to determine whether your pet may be in pain is a change in their behavior.  This can include an increase in anxiety, depression, or aggression as well as decreased social interaction or play.  Your pet may become less active or have difficulty doing things that were not a problem before.  For instance, they may have trouble getting up from lying down or they may have difficulty jumping or going up and down stairs.

Other changes may include decreased grooming, particularly for cats.  Some pets however over-groom areas of pain and may lick or bite excessively at an area that hurts.  They may also experience decreased appetite as well as changes in their bathroom habits.  Changes in posture as well as increased respiration or excessive panting can also be a sign of pain.  You can view an extensive list of symptoms for both dogs and cats on the IVAPM website.

It is important to keep an eye out for signs that your pet may be in pain.  Pain management is an invaluable tool in maintaining happy and healthy pets.  Last week, we introduced you to Veterinary Pain Specialist, Dr. Douglas Stramel.  While his practice focuses primarily on pain management, all veterinarians are equipped to handle painful pets in some capacity.  Your veterinarian may also be able to recommend a local pain specialist if you’re seeking a more in-depth approach to pain management.

As always, 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. 

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Sep 20, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Pain Specialist Dr. Douglas Stramel

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

As we shared last week, September is proclaimed as Animal Pain Awareness Month by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM).  Keeping with our theme of pain awareness, we would like to introduce you to veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner, Dr. Douglas Stramel of Advanced Care Veterinary Services in Carrollton, Texas.  Dr Stramel is the first and only Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and is also the President-Elect of IVAPM.

As the President of IVAPM, Dr. Stramel takes pain management very seriously and has made it a primary focus of his veterinary practice.  He employs advanced multi-modal pain management protocols including physical therapy, acupuncture, shock wave, laser therapy, and, you guessed it, regenerative medicine.

Dr. Stramel has been credentialed to perform VetStem Cell Therapy since 2007.  He is also an experienced user of Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET™).  One of his patients, a Great Dane named Pinky, received V-PET™ for a ruptured cruciate ligament last Summer.  After treatment, she was able to resume her daily walks and normal activities.  You can read Pinky’s story here.

We recently caught up with Dr. Stramel to ask him a few questions about his practice and pain awareness.  See his answers below.

What does it mean to be a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner?

This certification indicates that someone successfully completed advanced training in pain management.  Certification holders demonstrate an advanced knowledge in assessing, diagnosing and treating painful conditions in animals. The certificate is made possible through the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) to both doctors and technicians.


How do you incorporate the use of regenerative medicine (stem cells and/or platelet therapy) into your pain practice?

In my practice, we have used regenerative medicine in many different cases, such as cruciate ligament injuries, arthritic joints, inflamed tendons and spinal injuries.  The most common use at this point in time is part of a treatment plan for cruciate ligament injuries.  We have even used Stem Cell Therapy to help reduce skin allergies.


Why is pet pain awareness so important?

Today’s pet owner is looking for alternatives to “just giving a pill” or to “surgery”.  Veterinary medicine has made some great advancements in the last 10 years and we now have the ability to help many different painful conditions that we struggled with in the past.  Client’s pets are living longer and are part of the family, they want their pets to live pain-free lives as they are living longer.  Our clients are realizing that “acting old” is not a real diagnosis and that a pet that “acts old” is really painful and they want more than just a pill to help their furry family member out.  This goes beyond the “typical” pet and includes horses, exotics, pocket pets and farm animals as well.  Through IVAPM we are advocating for best practices in the treatment of animals in pain and have selected September as Animal Pain Awareness month to correspond with Human Pain Awareness Month.

If you’re looking for a veterinary pain specialist and are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, check out Dr. Stramel.  And thank you, Dr. Stramel, for taking the time to answer our questions!

Tune in next week as we continue our pain awareness theme to learn some of the signs and symptoms that may indicate your pet is in pain.

Dr. Douglas Stramel
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Sep 13, 2019

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

Now that it’s September, we thought it appropriate to mention that September is proclaimed as Animal Pain Awareness Month by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM).  One goal of the IVAPM is to “educate and inform pet owners about their pet’s health and well-being when it comes to pain management.”

Pain in pets can be acute or chronic and can stem from many causes including acute surgical pain or pain from a chronic disease such as osteoarthritis.  There are three primary classifications of pain: 1. Nociceptive – caused by noxious stimulation (injury/physical damage, exposure to chemicals or exposure to extreme temperatures), 2. Inflammatory – caused by acute or chronic inflammation, and 3. Neuropathic – from damage to an element of the nervous system.  Pain management is an important component of veterinary medicine to ensure pets maintain a good quality of life.  There are many forms of pain management including medication, rehabilitation, and of course stem cell therapy.

We frequently discuss how stem cells can reduce inflammation and help to heal joint tissues, thereby leading to less pain and increased comfort.  But as we know, stem cells have multiple modes of action and the current literature supports that stem cells have the ability to address both acute and chronic pain.  More recently, have there been studies to evaluate stem cells’ direct effects on modulating pain.  Stem cells have shown to have pain blocking cytokines (small, secreted proteins), which can have opioid-like effects.  Stem cells have also shown the ability to reduce neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nervous tissue).  Thus, stem cells have the ability to address the three primary types of pain described above.

In the coming weeks, we will share information about how to tell if your dog or cat is in pain.  We will also introduce you to a VetStem user and Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner.  And as always, 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. 

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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 30, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Kim Carlson, DVM, DACVS

Posted by Bob under Cat Stem Cells, Dog Stem Cells

This week, we would like to introduce you to one of VetStem’s most prolific users: Dr. Kim Carlson. Dr. Carlson practices in the Bay Area of California and recently opened her new surgical practice North Peninsula Veterinary Surgical Group in San Mateo, CA.  Dr. Carlson is a board-certified surgeon with a special interest in orthopedic surgery, oncologic surgery, trauma and wound management.

Dr. Carlson became credentialed to perform VetStem Cell Therapy in 2007 and has provided VetStem services for over 200 patients since!  Dr. Carlson also uses the Pall Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy kit.  We asked Dr. Carlson a few questions about her use of VetStem Cell Therapy.  See her answers below.

Many of your stem cell patients receive VetStem Cell Therapy in conjunction with orthopedic surgery.  Do you recommend stem cell therapy with all of your orthopedic surgeries?  If so, why? 

Yes, I do.  Because of the regenerative power of stem cells.  Most patients having orthopedic surgery have some degree of OA or soft tissue injury.  The benefit of stem cell therapy is faster healing, more normal healing, decreased pain, reduced development of OA.  Stem cells have the ability to treat injuries and return patients to full function that didn’t have a good prognosis with traditional options.  Not only do I recommend stem cell therapy for my orthopedic patients but I also recommend stem cell therapy for my patients who are being treated with skin grafts or other wound treatments.

Please explain why VetStem is your go-to stem cell provider. 

Simple.  Quality control.

You have provided VetStem services for well over 200 patients.  What advice can you offer to pet parents who are considering stem cell therapy for their pet? 

It’s a great option.  I’ve treated two of my own pets.  If you don’t have pet insurance look into obtaining pet insurance that will cover stem cell therapy should you need it for your pet.  Not only can stem cells help your pet with their current injury but their cells will be banked for any potential future treatments.

If you’re located in the Bay Area and are considering stem cell therapy for your pet, Dr. Kim Carlson is a very experienced and knowledgeable surgeon and VetStem provider.

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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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Aug 16, 2019

Stem Cells for Immune Mediated Polyarthritis

In previous blogs, we have discussed stem cell therapy for non-standard indications, or what we call “compassionate use” cases.  These are cases where there is limited data to show that stem cell therapy is effective however what results we do have, may look promising.  Examples include kidney disease, canine back pain, as well as several other diseases/conditions for which stem cells may be beneficial.  One such indication is Immune Mediated Polyarthritis, or IMPA for short. 

While IMPA is a form of arthritis, it is not the typical osteoarthritis that stem cells are used for regularly.  Rather than being caused by a malformed joint, wear and tear or trauma, IMPA is caused by the patient’s own immune system.  It is important to note that polyarthritis can be caused by an infection in the patient’s body.  Distinguishing between an infection and IMPA is imperative because treatment options are very different.  In this blog, we will discuss stem cell therapy for the treatment of IMPA.

In patients with IMPA, the immune system creates an inflammatory response and inappropriately sends white blood cells to the joints.  This in turn causes inflammation, pain, swelling, and difficulty waking.  The reason it is called “Polyarthritis” is because many of the joints may be affected in patients with IMPA.  While this condition is more common in dogs, it can affect cats as well.  IMPA is similar to Rheumatoid arthritis in humans.

Immune mediated diseases can be some of the most challenging cases for veterinarians to treat.  There are few therapeutic options when it comes to regulating an aberrant immune system.  Common treatment options include immunosuppression, often with steroids.  As most of you know, steroid use comes with several negative side effects and is not ideal for long-term use in dogs and cats.

So how may VetStem Cell Therapy help?  Well, we know that stem cells play a key role in not only managing pain but also in down-regulating inflammation.  Perhaps most importantly for these cases, stem cells have demonstrated immunomodulatory characteristics and the ability to help balance a patient’s immune system.  The study of stem cells for immune mediated diseases in both animals and humans is ongoing. 

IMPA is not the only immune mediated disease being treated with stem cells, however.  Veterinarians have utilized VetStem Cell Therapy to treat an array of immune mediated diseases, and we continue to gather data and monitor patient outcomes.  Some additional examples of immune mediated diseases that veterinarians are treating with VetStem Cell Therapy include canine dry eye, inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats, as well as feline chronic gingivostomatitis.

If your dog or cat is suffering from IMPA or another immune mediated disease, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.  Or you can contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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