Jan 5, 2010

Is my dog too old for stem cell therapy?

A common question pet owners ask when considering treatments for their dog or cat. I asked two very prominent veterinarians, Dr. Jamie Gaynor and Dr. Mike Hutchinson, to share with us their thoughts on this concern.

Dr. Jamie Gaynor, Owner of Peak Performance Veterinary Group, boarded anesthesiologist  and internationally recognized pain expert likes to remind pet owners about the value of quality of life.  Though an older dog may not have a long lifespan, the quality of those last months is extremely important.  For example, a thirteen year old dog may not live more than an additional 2 years- but making those dogs feel better, move more comfortably during the remaining time left is a blessing to both dog and pet owner.  He feels it is all about the quality of life.

Dr. Mike Hutchinson, Owner of Animal General of Cranberry and host of his own radio program, Animal General relayed to me the following story.

“I was with a veterinary oncologist one time when she told a client that their 18 year old toy poodle needed to be spayed and have a mammary gland tumor removed at the same time.  I questioned her when we were out of ear range of the clients and she told me she didn’t know how long the dog would live but she did know that the dog’s condition was going to decline rapidly without surgery.  As it turned out, that dog had the surgery and lived to 21!


I think that experience (and now many others) taught me that it’s definitely not the age that determines success or failure.  I have an honest risk/reward conversation with the owners based on their animal’s lab work and general condition (including pain).  With today’s anesthetics, I am convinced that age has little to do with their overall anesthetic risk.  Most of the people with older patients are primarily concerned with relieving their pet’s pain.  After thoroughly educating them, I ask about their expectations and proceed based on a mutual understanding of what we are trying to achieve. In the case of Vet-Stem’s therapy, I’ve found is that most clients schedule the appointment for fat collection on their way out of my office. “

Vet-Stem is proud to report our oldest patient to date was 17 years old at the time of treatment.  That said, part of a successful outcome is to have your veterinarian perform a through work up and then, as Dr Hutchinson said, understand the risks and rewards.  It is also really Important to discuss what your expectations are with your veterinarian.


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