Nov 11, 2022

The Power of Stem Cell Therapy Part 2: Holly’s Story

In last week’s VetStem blog, we introduced you to veterinarian and stem cell therapy proponent, Dr. John Hutchens. Dr. Hutchens shared his thoughts and experiences regarding the use of VetStem Cell Therapy in his patients. Check it out if you haven’t already, it’s a good one with lots of great information.

This week, we are sharing the experience of one of Dr. Hutchens’ VetStem patients, Holly. Holly is a chocolate Lab that received VetStem Cell Therapy for osteoarthritis in her hips and knees. Her owners kept a near daily journal of her treatment and initial progress. It’s rare that we get such a glimpse into the stem cell recovery process, so we wanted to share this with you! Check it out below.

Tuesday, July 25, 2022

Holly, our 11-year-old Labrador Retriever, had surgery today to remove a small amount of adipose tissue (fat) from her abdomen. It was sent to VetStem in California and should arrive there tomorrow. VetStem will isolate the stem cells and prepare 5 shots for Holly, one for each hip and one for each knee, and one IV. The rest will be stored by cryopreservation for future use. Stem cells are used for regenerative purposes in dogs, cats, and horses. VetStem will send the shots and IV back to my vet on Thursday for injection Friday morning if all goes well.

Friday, July 28

When we arrived at the vet at 8:00 am, we were told the shipment had been delayed in Indiana and was not there yet. My vet, Dr. Hutchens, had already talked to VetStem and they assured him it would be here first thing this morning. Since the cells are viable for 48 hours after shipping, if we had to, we could wait and do the procedure Saturday morning. He was willing to come in on a Saturday if they didn’t show up this morning. He is awesome. This was a minor blessing because Holly had developed diarrhea Wednesday evening and it gave the vet time to give her some meds to settle her stomach and start an IV to hydrate her. We left Holly at the vet and prayed the shipment would arrive soon.

Holly received an injection of her own stem cells into her hips and knees

Around lunch time we got a call from the vet. The shipment had arrived right away. Holly had already gotten her injections and IV and we could pick her up at 4:30. She was bright, perky, and ready to go home. She had a lot of swelling from the injections, and she was very sore on her back legs. She looked like a checkerboard where her hair had been clipped for her surgery and from her shots. She woke up twice that night and had to be helped up so she could go out to relieve herself.

Saturday, July 30

Her legs are still very sore. She is having difficulty getting up off the floor. We don’t have carpet and she slips when trying to get up. I’ve had to lift her up several times when she needed to get up. She slept all night.

Sunday, July 31

Holly is getting up easier today. In the morning she was stiff and had a hard time getting up but this afternoon she is getting up on her own and walking more.

Monday, August 1

Holly is so much better today. She can get up on her own and trots down the hall, instead of walking! She goes up and down her outside ramp with ease. This afternoon I rolled her ball about 10 feet and she actually ran after it. She is as good as, and maybe slightly better than she was before all this.

Tuesday, August 2

Wow, Holly went for a walk around the back pasture with Don (husband). Normally, she would go halfway around the acre, and stop while he finished his walk. Today, she walked around it 5 times! She hasn’t done that in about a year. I’ve cut back on her pain meds. Before all this, she was on 1.5 Rimadyl tablets and 2 Gabapentin capsules every day. She is only on 1 Rimadyl tablet and 1 Gabapentin a day now.

Wednesday, August 3 and Thursday, August 4

Holly continues to improve. It’s been a while since she would sit up and now, she is sitting again instead of lying on the floor all day. Unfortunately, that means she is begging for food. LOL. She has more energy, less pain, and is much happier. Her quality of life is so much better now.

Friday, August 5

We took her back to the vet to have her stitches out. The vet was amazed at how much better she was. She went from not being able to get up on her own, to getting up by herself, trotting down the halls. She is going up and down her ramp with ease, sitting up and being happy again! I recommend stem cell therapy to anyone who has a dog, cat, or horse that has health problems that this could fix. It’s a regenerative medical therapy that will enable the body to repair, replace, restore, and regenerate damaged or diseased tissues using its own cells.

Monday, August 8

Today Holly ran from the living room to the side door and barked when Robin came over and rang the doorbell. She commented that Holly had not done that in quite some time. This is so awesome.

Friday, August 12

Holly ran about 3 feet today. We threw (rolled) a ball about 5 feet and she ran after it. It didn’t last long but she actually ran a little.

Holly

August 16 & 18. This is week 3.

This is amazing. Robin threw Holly’s ball about 50 feet. Holly took off running as fast as she could (not very fast), trying to catch it. It’s crazy how much she has improved! She tried going down the deck stairs but fell at the bottom. She is still not quite strong enough to use the stairs going down all the time. She still mostly uses the ramp. We changed her meds to 1.5 Rimadyl only. We think the Gabapentin was causing her diarrhea.

August 24 & 25

Holly woke up wanting to play! She playfully growled and barked and tried to grab Don’s hand while squirming around in her bed and wagging her tail. She loves playing with him and never bites. LOL. When we opened the gate to the front pasture, she ran about 50 feet to meet Abby, Robin’s dog. They bounced around for a minute, then each went their own way sniffing everything they could find. She is actually interested in being outside now instead of lying around in the house all day. The next morning, she was stalking squirrels. She ran half the yard’s length then slowed down to a walk when the squirrel climbed a tree. She found one of her beloved balls and carried it around with her for half an hour before going back in the house. I can’t believe how much energy she has now.

September – Week 1

Holly has started using our deck stairs to go down to the yard again! Before, she would use her ramp which has roofing shingles tacked on it so she wouldn’t slip. Now, she is strong enough that she doesn’t fall at the bottom step anymore. She still uses the ramp to get back up to the deck.

September – Week 2 (approx. 45 days after treatment with stem cells)

Holly ran all the way across our back yard this week. That’s about 100 feet! I also noticed that she has started jumping up and down a little when she gets really excited or someone comes to the house. These stem cells seem to still be working. I wonder what it could do for me. LOL. It’s like the Fountain of Youth!


As you can see, VetStem Cell Therapy helped Holly live a better quality of life. At 11 years old with osteoarthritis in multiple joints, the treatment didn’t make her like a puppy again. But it did help her get moving so she could get back to some of her favorite things in life like playing with her ball, walking with dad, stalking squirrels, and greeting visitors. If you think your dog may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

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Oct 1, 2021

Take a Walk to Improve Your Dog’s Osteoarthritis

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Osteoarthritis

Today, October 1st, kicks off National Walk Your Dog Week! The idea of this week is to raise awareness about the health benefits of regular exercise for your dog. Low impact exercise, such as walking, comes with several potential health benefits.

Walking to Reduce Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, regular walking comes with several benefits which may lead to healthier joints such as muscle strengthening, joint fluid circulation, and weight loss. Increasing muscle mass allows the pressure and weight to shift from your joints to your muscles. While an increase in joint fluid circulation is beneficial to maintaining healthy joint cartilage.

Additionally, weight loss is an important factor when it comes to managing pain and lameness associated with osteoarthritis. Excess weight leads to increased wear and tear on a dog’s joints and can therefore lead to the onset or worsening of osteoarthritis. Walking can help to reduce your dog’s weight and/or maintain a healthy weight. Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can benefit arthritic joints and one study found that weight loss significantly decreased lameness in obese dogs with OA.

How to Exercise Your Dog

Experts agree that regular, short-interval exercise is key, as opposed to doing one big activity on the weekends, such as a long hike. Regular exercise may be something as simple as taking a walk daily or on most days. But it is important to note that different pets require different exercise regimens. One of your best resources is your veterinarian. He/She can help you build an exercise plan tailored specifically to your pet.

And the best news is, these same principles apply to people! So, if you suffer from osteoarthritis or are just looking for a low-impact exercise to stay active, taking your dog on routine walks can be beneficial to you both! Happy National Walk Your Dog Week!

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Jul 30, 2021

Arthritic Dog has First Canine Total Ankle Replacement in Florida

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Osteoarthritis

Most of you are probably aware of joint replacement procedures in humans as well as in dogs. You may have heard of total hip replacement in dogs, a surgical procedure used to improve the quality of life in dogs with hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. A much less common procedure in dogs is ankle replacement. Recently, a dog underwent total ankle replacement at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s Small Animal Hospital and became the first canine to have the procedure in Florida.

Small Animal Veterinary Surgery

Leo Gets a New Ankle

The patient was Leo, a seven-year-old Lab, who was experiencing lameness as a result of severe hock (ankle) arthritis. His surgeon, Dr. Stanley Kim, is one of only twelve veterinary surgeons worldwide who are trained in the surgical technique. According to UF, “The procedure involved replacing the damaged surfaces of his joint with a prosthetic implant known as the TATE Ankle, developed by BioMedtrix. The procedure is currently in clinical evaluation at a limited number of centers around the world.”

After the procedure, Leo went through a lengthy recovery period. It was about three months before he was cleared to work towards his preoperative lifestyle. Fortunately, he had a smooth recovery. And approximately five months after the procedure, Leo is back to hiking and playing fetch! You can watch a little video about Leo and his procedure here.

Stem Cell Therapy with Joint Replacement

You may be wondering, “What does this have to do with stem cell therapy?!” While joint replacement is both extensive and expensive, sometimes it is the best course of treatment for dogs with severe arthritis. At VetStem, one of our goals is to encourage veterinarians and their clients to consider stem cell therapy for arthritic dogs before the need for joint replacement arises. Of course, that is not always easy, and some cases are so bad, joint replacement may be their only option to live a normal life.

When joint replacement is deemed the best treatment option, we like to remind dog owners that stem cell therapy can be a great addition to surgery. Using stem cell therapy in conjunction with surgery may lead to reduced healing time, less pain, and less scar tissue formation. To learn more, read this previous blog about using stem cell therapy in conjunction with surgery.

If you are interested in VetStem Cell Therapy for your pet, click here to find a provider near you.

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Apr 16, 2021

Agility Dog Successfully Treated with VetStem Cell Therapy

Posted by Bob under VetStem Cell Therapy

Kirby is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who has been competing in agility since he was just one and a half years old. Several years ago, he began experiencing intermittent lameness in his hind end, most notably in his hips and left knee. He was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and cruciate ligament injuries.

A corgi dog jumping over a bar during an agility competition
Kirby

Because he is such an active dog, his owner pursued several treatment options to help him feel more comfortable. Initially, he was treated with cold laser therapy, underwater treadmill, and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. This combination would help Kirby for a little while and then he would go back to being lame. Next, his mom pursued treatment with platelet therapy. Kirby received concentrated platelet injections into both hips and both knees. His mom reported that he responded well, and the results lasted for a year after the platelet injections.

But after that year, Kirby was sore again. That is when his mom elected to have Kirby treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. His veterinarian collected fat tissue from his abdomen in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. His mom described the procedure as such, “The minor surgery to harvest the fat was easy and he recovered quickly.” VetStem laboratory technicians processed Kirby’s fat to concentrate and extract his stem and regenerative cells. Kirby’s stem cell injections were sent back to his veterinarian for treatment. He received one injection into each hip, each knee, and also intravenously.

Approximately two months after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, Kirby was doing much better. According to his mom, he was able to return to agility, competing about once a month with an 80% qualifying rate. In addition, he hikes 12-15 miles with his mom each week. She stated, “I’m so grateful to VetStem for their help and that they have his cells in storage so we can give him more injections in the future if needed!!”

Kirby’s treatment was nearly two years ago and according to his mom, he was still doing well and competing in agility trials as of late 2020. He has not required a repeat injection of stem cells to date!

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 15, 2021

Talk a Walk this January for Walk Your Pet Month!

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis

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

Benefits of Regular Exercise

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

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

How to Exercise Your Pet

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

According to Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Regular physical activity is paramount in the treatment of osteoarthritis both in humans and animals. A lifestyle of regular activity that is moderated away from intermittent extremes of exercise (such as long hikes on the weekends) and activities to which the pet is not conditioned is essential. Ideally, multiple shorter walks are better than one long one. The same activity every day (or slightly increasing if tolerated) is ideal.”

Cats Need Exercise Too!

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

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Aug 14, 2020

Golden Retriever Receives VetStem Cell Therapy for Hip Arthritis

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, VetStem Cell Therapy

When Daisey was approximately six years old, she began showing symptoms of osteoarthritis in her hips. A typical fun-loving Golden, Daisey enjoys fetch, running at the dog park, and playing with her canine sibling. When she began to limp after her favorite activities, her owners knew there was a problem.  She started having trouble walking up stairs and would occasionally yelp in pain.

Daisey

A trip to the veterinarian revealed Daisey has osteoarthritis in her hips as a result of bilateral hip dysplasia. Her owners decided against surgery and instead looked into stem cell therapy. Her veterinarian, Dr. Rob Landry of Colorado Center for Animal Pain Management, has extensive experience with VetStem Cell Therapy and determined Daisey was a good candidate for the procedure.

Dr. Landry collected fat tissue from Daisey’s abdomen, which was shipped to the VetStem laboratory in California. VetStem lab technicians processed the tissue to extract and concentrate Daisey’s stem and regenerative cells. Three injectable stem cell doses were shipped back to Dr. Landry. Approximately 48 hours after the fat tissue collection, Daisey received injections of her own stem cells into each hip and intravenously.

After the procedure, Daisey’s owners noticed improvement. First, they noticed that Daisey was able to rise from lying down with less difficulty. Additionally, climbing stairs became less of a challenge for Daisey. Eventually, she began to play more and is now able to take long walks with her owners. Her owner stated, “There is a contented look on her face and a twinkle in her eyes. So far life is good.”

Unfortunately, Daisey’s story is not uncommon. Approximately 1 in 5 adult dogs are affected by arthritis. OA can be caused by a number of factors including abnormal joint conformation or development, injury, and obesity. In addition, some dog breeds, like Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to the disease. Fortunately, stem cells have shown the ability to down-regulate inflammation and pain, which can lead to an increase in an arthritic dog’s quality of life. If you think your dog 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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Jul 10, 2020

Vet has Own Dog Treated with VetStem Cell Therapy for Arthritis

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, VetStem Cell Therapy

Emma is a 12-year-old Australian cattle dog. She has arthritis in her elbows and carpus (wrist) and also has spondylosis, a spinal condition in which bony spurs form along the vertebrae. Fortunately for Emma, her mom is a veterinarian and elected to have Emma treated with VetStem Cell Therapy.

In 2018, Emma had her fat collected to begin the process for stem cell therapy. Her initial treatment consisted of three joint injections for her elbows and right carpus, one intravenous injection, and one injection that was given along the muscles of her spine. She responded well to treatment.

After approximately one year, Emma began to slow down again. Her veterinarian requested that Emma’s stem cells be put into culture to grow more stem cell doses for treatment. Once the culture process was complete, Emma received a second round of stem cell injections just over one year after her first treatment.

Again, Emma responded well to the stem cell treatment but, according to her mom, began to show signs of discomfort approximately one year after her second stem cell treatment. Her mom stated, “What we notice is weakness to her back legs and mild limping on her front legs. She will also lick at her carpi and elbows when her pain is acting up. When her rear legs are weak, we notice she has trouble jumping onto the couch. She also needs to stop and rest frequently when we take her on walks.” Emma received a third stem cell treatment in June of this year. Her mom stated, “I know she would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the stem cell treatment.”

Emma’s story is not uncommon. Many VetStem patients have undergone repeat injections when their symptoms start to flare up again. One such patient is Bodie, the champion Bird Dog with hip dysplasia. Fortunately, VetStem offers stem cell storage for patients who receive VetStem Cell Therapy. If available, the stored stem cells can be used for future treatments as needed. For more information about cell storage, read our recent blog on the subject.

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Apr 24, 2020

Shepherd Discontinues NSAIDs After Stem Cell Therapy

At approximately six years old, Opus, a German Shepherd, began showing symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA). He was diagnosed with bilateral hip OA as a result of hip dysplasia. He was prescribed pain medication as well as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to help keep him comfortable. These medications were effective for approximately two years before Opus started to show signs of discomfort again.

Opus’ veterinarian, Dr. Jerrold Bausman of VCA Veterinary Specialists of the Valley, recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. To begin the process, Dr. Bausman collected fat tissue from Opus’ abdomen in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was processed at the VetStem laboratory to extract Opus’ stem and regenerative cells for injectable stem cell doses. At approximately eight years old, Opus received injections of his own stem cells into each hip joint.

Opus Regains Mobility and Discontinues NSAIDs

Opus

According to his Owner, Opus had a great response to VetStem Cell Therapy. Opus’ owner stated, “Opus runs around the yard as if he were a 3-year-old. I’m very happy with the procedure.” Opus was also able to discontinue his use of NSAIDs after stem cell therapy. This is significant because NSAID use may lead to negative side effects such as gastrointestinal upset and organ damage.

Treatment Rationale: Stem Cells for Osteoarthritis Caused by Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is defined as a deformed hip joint. The deformity causes instability and abnormal movement in the joint which eventually leads to bone changes and loss of cartilage. The damage caused by hip dysplasia results in pain and inflammation in the joint and associated limb. Stem cells have the ability to down regulate both inflammation and pain. Stem cells also have regenerative properties which may lead to tissue (cartilage, bone) regrowth.

If your dog has discomfort related to osteoarthritis, speak with your veterinarian about the possibility of treating with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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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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