Recall when you were a child or even in your teenage years. After massive amounts of activity you were not sore and if you did get sore, the soreness did not last very long. Trauma to the body did not hurt as much and when legitimate injuries occurred, they healed very quickly. Fast forward to your present age and soreness following activity is a foregone conclusion, the soreness lingers longer. Injuries are more common, more, painful and take longer to heal. Have you ever wondered why?
As children and young adults, our bodies teaming with regenerative cells called stem cells. Stem cells are what are known as progenitor cells that are capable of differentiating into any tissue cell type for the purpose of regeneration and healing of tissues and organ systems. As we age, our stem cells are less numerous and less active and thus we become more prone to inflammation, soreness, injuries, and delayed injury recovery. The same stem cell aging process applies to kittens and puppies where stems cells are very active in the young but become less numerous and active as they age into adulthood and their senior years. The science of veterinary stem cell therapy for dogs and cats repairs injured areas of the body by harnessing the power of stems cells by essentially giving them back the stem cell benefit they had as younger pets.
By harvesting the patients’ own stem cells, activating them, and injecting them into injured areas, we are able to repair tissues at the cellular level. In the past, the harvesting of stem cells has required a minor surgical procedure with general anesthesia where fat from the body is sampled and sent off to a lab to have the stem cells extracted and processed into an injectable media. Since injection of joints, one of the most common uses of stem cell therapy in veterinary medicine, almost always requires sedation, the costs and client perceived invasiveness associated with anesthesia, minor surgery followed by sedation, clients have often been reluctant to consider it for their pet. As a result, although most veterinarians are strong advocates of this branch of veterinary medicine, we have traditionally found it a tough sell for pet owners.
With new stem cell technology, the general anesthesia and surgical portion of stem cell therapy has been taken out of the process altogether. This new technology does not require tissue harvest for collection of stem cells, but instead is able to extract and activate stem cells from a simple blood draw. The blood is sent off to the lab and within 2 business days arrives to the clinic ready for injection. Thus, your pet can now enjoy the benefits of stem cell therapy for any number of conditions with a simple blood draw, gentle sedation, and injection into damaged areas of the body; all within a 3 day turn around and two outpatient visits.
The regenerative medicine process can also offer your pet the benefit of platelet rich plasma, also known as PRP which is extracted via the same blood sample. Isolated from the same original whole blood sample, these components of the blood are powerful healing components of the blood that can be directly injected into injured joints, ligaments, and tendons can facilitate expedient and rapid healing.
Stems cell and platelet rich plasma solutions harvested from your pet’s own blood are directly injected into damaged joints and acupuncture points to seek out, differentiate into the given tissue cell type, and repair it. In addition to direct injection, the patient is given an additional intravenous bolus of stem cells to provide systemic regenerative benefits throughout the entire body, in essence, sending a large population of stem cells throughout the entire body via the circulatory system on a seek and repair mission
The applications of this type of treatment goes far beyond orthopedic repair. There are currently numerous studies in process to assess the benefits of this treatment for chronic degenerative disease such as kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and several degenerative neurological conditions that traditional veterinary medicine previously had little answer for. I have already begun treating cats with chronic kidney failure (the number one cause of death in cats) by advocating for early screening and intervention with stems cell therapy and proper dietary and nutritional strategies. Conclusions are still pending as the data continues to be collected, but initial results are very promising.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , general partner of Grant Animal Clinic, and runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care. Dr. Welton fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.