Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

Stem Cell Therapy – Help for Arthritis and More

There’s been a lot of discussion lately on the use of stem cells in the treatment of chronic conditions in humans. The question is whether these cells are viable or will they be rejected by the recipient. With animals, this is not a concern as stem cells are sourced and harvested from the animal’s own fat cells offering little danger of rejection.

The stem cells harvested from the animal’s fat tissue are adult cells and have been shown to help animals with arthritis and other degenerative conditions. Regenerative medicine as it’s referred to, first became available in 2004 when the first horse was treated with regenerative cell therapy for a tendon injury that would have normally been career ending. It’s now available for dogs and studies have shown that there have been significant improvements in stem cell treated dogs with osteoarthritis of the hip.

Fat tissue has the most concentrated number of stem cells. There are 50 to 1,000 times more stem cells in the fat than the bone marrow. At this concentration, it’s no longer necessary to culture the stem cells to acquire the necessary cell numbers to make a healing impact. 

In 2005, fat samples had to be sent to an outside lab in California for harvesting and then delivered back to the clinic for injection. Today it can be done in the clinic. Once the fat cells are prepared, they are injected back into the troubled joint. This is often done the same day. As the stem cells re-grow in the body, they can become ligaments, tendons or cartilage in the area that is experiencing problems.

Since 2005, the cost has dropped approximately 40%. The treatment is not limited to horses and dogs. It can be used in any animal suffering from degenerative joint conditions, cartilage or ligament damage.

Great strides have been made in treating joint disease and injuries that affect our dogs but we also have to commit to working with them to keep their muscles, tendons and ligaments flexible and strong.