Advanced Care

Stem Cell Therapy

Our hospital is pleased to offer advanced Stem Cell Therapy. Veterinarians must go through a specialized training course and become credentialed before performing this procedure. Stem cell therapy has primarily been used for animals with arthritis, fractures and tendon/ligament injuries and outcomes have been impressive. The procedure involves taking stem cells from a pet's own abdominal fat and then injecting a specially processed suspension several days later into the ailing joint or tissue. Essentially, this allows the tissue to help heal itself. Currently it is reported that 80% of patients undergoing the procedure show some sign of improvement.

Additional studies have demonstrated success in treating systemic disorders such as cerebral (brain) and myocardial (heart muscle) infarction, muscular dystrophy, and immune-mediated conditions. New protocols are being developed constantly so that many pets with a variety of conditions may ultimately benefit from stem cell therapy. Ask our staff or your veterinarian about these procedures for your pet. 

Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy

Dr. Nancy Hampel and the staff at VCA Animal Medical Center performed their first stem cell procedure in February 2007. 

What is Stem Cell Therapy?
The following article courtesy of Dr. Tracy Lord provides an excellent overview:

For many of us, the term stem cell brings to mind associations with hotly debated moral and ethical issues. There is, however, another side of stem cells and stem cell therapy. I am very excited to report that stem cell therapy has arrived in the veterinary arena without controversy or contest. The process uses stem cells collected from an adult body's own fat. A company called Vet-Stem is currently working with certified veterinarians to provide stem cell therapy for their patients. Currently, we are able to offer this treatment option for dogs, cats and horses.

So how is it that an adult body still has stem cells? Stem cells are simply undifferentiated cells that can be found in most tissues in the body. These cells remain primitive or undifferentiated, waiting for the body to need them. Many people think of their bodies and cells working in a very quiet and orderly fashion. This is, however, far from reality. Our bodies are like a war zone. Inside- there is chaos and destruction everywhere. On a microscopic level, the body is constantly rebuilding just to maintain itself. Our body calls on these undifferentiated cells every day to maintain health in our organs, in bones and on the skin. Without stem cells, we could not survive.

A single stem cell is able to differentiate or turn into many different tissues such as tendon, cartilage, bone or organ depending where it goes. The controversy on the human side is over using embryonic stem cells. These cells, taken from embryos, have the ability to form whole beings- to create an entire new person, dog or sheep. Adult stem cells on the other hand, have the ability to differentiate into many different types of tissues but work to repair. This makes these cells very useful for healing tissues or potentially organs.

In animals, we now have a way to harvest adult stem cells, collect and process them and then replace them in the body where they are needed. The amazing part is that the cells take care of the rest. Stem cell therapy is also known as regenerative medicine. The cells will regenerate the tissue in its close environment.

Currently the process is open for treatment of osteoarthritis, tendon and ligament injuries, and poorly healing fractures. Once a patient has been deemed a candidate for treatment, he or she undergoes a short surgical procedure to collect fat. The fat is most often harvested from around their shoulders or pelvic area. Fat, especially from these areas, is a rich source of stem cells. In fact a small amount, less than 1/2 a cup, can potentially provide enough cells for multiple treatments for your animal. After collection, this fat is shipped to a company called Vet-Stem who then harvests and processes the cells and sends those needed back to the veterinarian for injection. The number of cells harvested varies from patient to patient depending on the quality of their fat so to speak.
The entire process is generally completed in three days.

Studies are presently ongoing for use of this therapy in treatment of liver failure, feline kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome and various autoimmune conditions. Thus far the procedure is most commonly used to arthritis and the results have been impressive. Decreased pain with improved mobility, a win-win combination. It is exciting to think where this therapy could lead us. What it has to offer presently, and what it could offer to our animal friends in the future.

Current Uses for Stem Cells in Dogs and Cats

  • Canine osteoarthritis - hip, elbow, knee, shoulder
  • Canine immune mediated polyarthritis
  • Tendon and Ligament injuries
  • Integrated with surgical repair of joints or ligaments

Are you wondering if stem cell therapy is right for your pet?
Veterinarians have identified their "perfect case" as a pet with arthritis who meets at least one of the following conditions:

  • Is not responding well or can not tolerate pain medication
  • Is not a good surgical candidate due to age or health
  • Has arthritis identified in one or more joints
  • Has immune mediated Polyarthritis
  • Is likely to need long term pain medications
  • Pet owner prefers a natural therapy

Once in the joint the stem cells:

  •  Are anti-inflammatory.
  • Change into the specific cell type needed to repair a given area, like cartilage.
  • Provide growth factors to support healing tissue.
  • Home to the injured area for quick repair including revitalizing weakened cells.
  • Support immune system function.

Day One

We are so fortunate to have Vet Stem local to us, so what typically takes 3 days to collect the fat and process the Stem Cells, then re-inject, we can do it all in one day! We also offer Vet Stem's PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma).

For more information Visit Vet-Stem Regenerative Veterinary Medicine