As dog owners, we all wish for long, healthy, stress free lives for our pets, and ourselves! We know that those routine strolls in the park after work benefit pet owners as much as a pet.
For how much our pets enrich lives and provide unconditional love, the least we can do is provide them with the best care possible when trouble does arise.
As a veterinarian and pet owner, stem cell practitioner Dr. Mike Hutchinson’s philosophy with pets is not just “live and let live”, but “live and help live”. This adage attests to his focus on continually receiving training on the most modern, cutting edge, and natural treatments available to dog owners.
Dr. Hutchinson runs Animal General Vet Practice out of Pennsylvania, and was one of the first vets in the United States to use Stem Cell Therapy in 2008. Since then, it’s exploded, and Dr. Hutchinson has treated hundreds of dogs successfully.
You may ask yourself: why haven’t I heard of Stem Cell Therapy for Pets? How does it work? Well, for companies like Medivet Biologics, the growth seen in the United States started with word of mouth between satisfied pet owners, and expanded with clinical trials and extensive university collaboration.
Medivet has treated an astounding 10,000 pets in North America to date. Over 500 vets across 47 states in the USA use Medivet’s products, and the treatment is now gaining traction in Canada also. So how exactly does this all play out?
Here’s how the science works
Your vet extracts 2-4 tablespoons of fat, to access the dormant adult stem cells found in fat tissue in very high concentrations. These naturally occurring repair cells found in your pet are adult stem cells, not embryonic cells. These cells have already divided multiple times, and are not a risk for any cancerous growth or adverse reactions.
A certified lab technician will process, concentrate, and activate these stem cells so that a final volume can be re-injected by your vet back into your pet’s joint or other areas with disease.
The technician will also process a sample of whole blood drawn from the pet, concentrate the platelets found in whole blood, and then combine with the stem cell sample. Platelets from blood act as food for a stem cell sample, and help to maximize the viability of the sample.
Finally, your vet injects the final volume to do the heavy lifting: the healing. This is an autologous therapy, meaning the stem cells are only ever extracted and re-administered into the same pet, therefore providing minimal chance of side effects.
The treatment accomplishes two things
First, an immediate anti-inflammatory effect will be realized within the treated joint(s). Notable reduction of lameness in osteoarthritic dogs are commonly seen. Secondly, the growth factors found within stem cells, and platelets from whole blood, have been shown to create new tissue regeneration, whether it be ligament, tendon, fat, or bone.
Improvement is seen within the first week to three months, and lasts one to four years in dogs. Samples can also be cryo stored (Frozen long term) at a Medivet facility. This means a young dog with a possibility of future complications can proactively bank cells that will later be sent back to the vet practice for treatment at any time.
According to Dr. Jacob Adserballe, stem cell practitioner and owner of Family Pet Lethbridge, the reduction in pain is enough for a lot of animal owners to proceed with the treatment. “When I see the reduction in lameness, the great improvement in range of motion, and see the pet is happier and feels better with these treatments, it makes my job more fun. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to treat a 9 year old arthritic dog and then hear back from the pet owner about the results. It’s very effective, and it’s a big boost to a pet’s quality of life!”
To find out more about stem cell therapy, you can visit www.medivetcanada.ca for Before & After videos, testimonials, information on pet insurance coverage, and an FAQ.
Autologous: When the donor and recipient are the same individual.
Growth Factor: A chemical (usually a protein or steroid hormone) released by a cell that is capable of stimulating cellular growth, proliferation, healing, and cellular differentiation.
Regenerative Medicine: Branch of medicine that utilizes biologic agents, such as stem cells, to treat disease.
PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma): Platelet Rich Plasma, a quantity of plasma that contains platelets in concentration above those of whole blood.
Peter Watson works for Medivet Biologics Canada Inc.