Stem Cell Treatment for Canine Osteoarthritis

Serra Veterinary Hospital, Inc., in conjunction with VetStem, is now able to offer regenerative cell therapy with adult stem cell treatment for canine osteoarthritis. Serra Veterinary Hospital is one of a few locations that are currently approved by VetStem to provide this treatment for canines. The stem cells are harvested from fat cells collected from the canine patient to be treated. This does require a minor surgical procedure to collect a minimum of 15-30 grams of the patient’s fat. Once the fat is collected it is shipped to VetStem where stem cells are extracted in their laboratory. The patient’s cells are then sent back to Serra Veterinary Hospital within 48 hours for injection. Any additional stem cells extracted beyond the initial dose will be stored by VetStem for future injections. Storage of additional injections is at no charge for up to one year. After the first year, the cost for storage is $150 per animal per year.

VetStem has been treating horses with fat-derived stem cells since 2003, and began conducting clinical studies on dogs in 2005. Initial studies indicate treatment with stem cells decreases pain and improves mobility and joint range of motion (ROM). Results from treatment of canine patients with arthritis are similar to results reported by veterinarians that have treated hundreds of equine joints. The risk of adverse reaction is very low since the cells are the animal’s own. No adverse reactions have been reported in over 100 dogs treated. In horses, no systemic reactions have been reported and <1% of horses have a local tissue reaction. Duration of effect from a single administration can last from several months to over a year.

stem cell treatment

Estimated costs for the initial fat harvest, processing, banking of additional stem cells, and initial injection are $2,500- $4,000; costs can vary depending on the size of the patient and the route of administration. Any stored injections can be thawed and shipped for injection at a reduced price. If you are interested in having your pet treated for osteoarthritis with autogenous stem cells please read the additional information below to make sure your pet is a good candidate for this treatment. Because this treatment is more costly than medical management and carries minor risks because of the surgical fat harvest, we want to be sure each patient is a good candidate prior to scheduling an appointment.

Patient Requirements for Stem Cell Treatment:

COMMERCIAL USES: Osteoarthritis, Polyarthritis, Fractures, Tendon and Ligament Injuries

  • Good general health as assessed by your regular veterinarian within the last 6 months. Patient records will be required prior to the initial exam, or your pet’s exam will be rescheduled.
  • Current laboratory work (within 2-4 weeks of fat harvest) including a CBC, Chemistry Profile, U/A and T4, and tick titers. If current labs are not provided, these tests will be run at the initial examination.
  • The diagnosis of osteoarthritis confirmed with radiographs (x-rays). Properly labeled diagnostic radiographs need to be brought to the initial examination.
  • No other serious diseases present which could increase the patient’s risk with anesthesia or limit response to treatment.
  • Consistent labeled use of flea and tick control, or screening for tick-borne diseases with tick titers prior to treatment; see above.

These requirements are to insure your pet is safe to undergo the surgical procedure for fat harvest, and maximize potential benefit from the stem cell treatment.

The Following Will Disqualify Your Pet From Treatment:

  • Major illness such as cancer, poorly regulated diabetes mellitus, or endocrine disease that is not controlled.
  • Concurrent neurological disease, such as degenerative myelopathy, or intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). Stem cells will have limited benefit on mobility issues that are a result of chronic/reoccurring spinal nerve damage or inflammation such as disc disease. Studies on neurologic diseases indicate diseases such as Degenerative Myelopathy and paralysis from trauma or post laminectomy appear to be responsive to stem cell treatment; however these diseases are not currently avaliable for commercial treatment with stem cells.
  • Patients that have not had regular veterinary care in the last 6 months.
  • Patients without current vaccinations, vaccine titers, or letters for non-vaccination for medical reasons.
  • Patients that have not consistently used Promeris, Frontline or Advantix, and do not have current tick titers. *
stem cell treatment

*The clinical signs of tick-borne disease, which include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Ehrlichia can mimic the signs of osteoarthritis. Patients become infected through the bite of an immature tick, or nymph. Because the nymph is tiny, exposure is usually not detected. Tick-borne infections can cause damage to joints, including immune mediated polyarthritis,
and/or systemic damage to organs such as the liver, heart, central nervous system, and kidneys. This type of infection can easily be mistaken for osteoarthritis, and could reduce or eliminate benefit from stem cell treatment. This type of infection should be treated prior to regenerative therapy. Screening for tick-borne disease can be done with a blood sample, which can be drawn at the initial examination.

If you have more questions after reading this information you can access VetStem’s website or contact them toll free at 1-888 -387-8361. Serra Veterinary Hospital can also provide additional printed information.

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