Senior pets can suffer from a variety of ailments including arthritis, cruciate ligament disease, hip and elbow dysplasia, and other joint and orthopedic conditions. Traditional treatments, such as administering NSAIDs, may only reduce symptoms and can sometimes leave the animal feeling lethargic. Now there’s a program offered by many veterinarians across the country that can treat the pet through stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP).
“Stem cells are your pet’s own repair cells,” said Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital. “There are many adult stem cells in fat tissue that are dormant. Our hospital uses MediVet’s patented stem cell procedure to isolate stem cells from a pet’s own fat tissue, activate them, and re-inject the cells directly into the damaged areas of the pet’s body all in one visit.”
As the stem cells circulate through the pet’s bloodstream to the parts of the body that have been injured or inflamed, the stem cells generate anti-inflammatory biochemical substances and start forming new cells of the same type that have been damaged. Stem cells even encourage surrounding cells to start regenerating. Pet owners can also take advantage of banking stem cells for future use in their pet’s life. Stem cells can easily be collected during a pet’s spay or neuter procedure. The cells can then be frozen (banked) for future use when the pet grows older and the likelihood of disease increases.
Another procedure that is particularly effective for senior dogs and cats is platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP). Results of recent studies suggest that in dogs with arthritis, a single joint injection of its own platelets results in significant improvements 12 weeks later. The intra-articular platelet therapy can relieve pain in arthritic dogs for up to three months. After blood is taken from the animal, a special point-of-use centrifuge is used to filter the platelets which are then injected into the pet’s joint or point of pain or injury within 30 minutes.
PRP has been used to help treat conditions that involve tendons, ligaments, joint injuries, and muscle, which in general have a slow healing time. Not only do platelets help blood to clot, platelets also have the ability to stop inflammation, clean up and remove dead cells, and release growth factors. The release of growth factors is what helps to make tissue regeneration possible, bring healing, and why PRP works.
“What is extraordinary about the PRP procedure is that the treatment is created from the pet’s own blood,” added Dr. Martins. “Therefore, there is no risk of rejection. When injected into the damaged areas, the cells within the body are stimulated to bring in new healthy cells and to bring about an accelerated healing time. Therefore, PRP is a great option for older pets.”
These revolutionary new treatments hold promise for many conditions including diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney disease, thyroid problems, and skin conditions. The Winn Feline Foundation highlighted the use of stem cell therapy during their 2015 Winn Symposium where Craig B. Webb, DVM, PhD, DACVIM of Colorado State University, Veterinary Teaching Hospital presented “Feline stem cells as a novel treatment for cats with chronic intestinal disease.” Dr. Webb explained how stem cells work and described a pilot study that supports further study of this type of therapeutic approach.
It’s important to sit down with your veterinarian and discuss in detail the procedure and let your veterinarian advise if stem cell therapy is the right course of treatment for your pet. Some conditions could disqualify your pet from treatment, such as malignant cancers.
Read more here from the National Pet Health Examiner.