Stem Cell Therapy for arthritic dogs on the Fleurieu!

Google Maps location for Riverport Veterinary Hospital

Riverport Veterinary Hospital
1 Avoca Street
SA 5214

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08 8555 5690

Victor Central Veterinary Clinic
35 Crozier Road
Victor Harbor
SA 5211

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08 7522 4300

We love to be on the cutting edge of veterinary science and stem cell therapy is something that gets us pretty excited!  While still controversial in human medicine (mainly due to the use of embryos to harvest certain types of stem cells), stem cell therapy for arthritis in dogs is now available in general veterinary practice, and so far we have been very happy with the results.  Arthritis is such a common disease in dogs and stem cell therapy has the potential to improve the lives of lots of arthritic dogs.  Let’s get straight to the point and answer the questions we most commonly get asked about stem cell therapy:

Where do stem cells come from?


            Sorry that was a little cheeky so I’ll be more specific.  The stem cells we use are derived from the fat cells from donor dogs.  Essentially dogs with superior genetics (ie not prone to arthritis) have some of their fat harvested.  The stem cells are then isolated from the fat and grown in a laboratory before being snap frozen in specific quantities.  They are then thawed before being couriered to us to use within 72 hours.  We simply sedate the patient and inject a vial of stem cells into each affected joint.

What do stem cells do?

            Stem cells are progenitor cells.  That means they have the ability to change into other cell types.  For this discussion that means that they can help repair damaged cartilage and promote active tissue regeneration when injected directly into affected joints.  What this really means is that patients are likely to gain increased range of motion in their joints, reduced lameness and most importantly a decrease in pain.

How much better will my dog really be?

            We can’t say for sure but what we do know is that 80% of dogs will show a “significant” improvement within 12 weeks of therapy.  Recently we had a phone call from an excited owner 3 days after her pooch had stem cells injected into his knees.  In her words: “I have a new dog again!”  We can’t expect that sort of response every time but a good proportion of dogs will have a significant enough response that they can be weaned off their pain medication

Is it safe?

            Stem cell therapy is generally low risk.  Some patients may be sore for a few days afterwards (after all, they have had needles inserted into their joints) but the vast majority show minimal (if any) side effects.  Any time we inject into a joint there is a very small risk of introducing bacteria and causing a joint infection which can be quite hard to treat.  Thankfully this is rare.

Would you use stem cell therapy in your  own dog?

            After treating some cases now…..ABSOLUTELY

Can stem cells be used for other conditions?

            There is huge potential for the use of stem cells in many ways.  Currently we are only using stem cells for arthritic patients but as more studies are done we will be able to treat more and more patients.

How much does it cost?

            Glad you asked.  Currently we order individual doses of stem cells based on the size of the patient and the number of joints affected.  This means the cost is quite variable.  If you would like your furry friend evaluated for stem cell therapy give Rhys a ring at one of the clinics and we can talk it through, including the cost

Will it need to be done more than once?

            Excellent question.  In short we don’t have a great answer for that one.  We know that at 12 months  most patients are doing very well and will continue to do so for some time.  As stem cells are used more commonly and more scientific studies emerge we will have better statistics for longer term outcome.

Is my doggy suitable for stem cell therapy?

            The chances are that if your pooch has arthritis or has had a joint injury, stem cells could be of benefit.  However, each patient is different and needs to be evaluated completely before undertaking any specific treatment.

Hopefully that answers most of your questions about stem cell therapy.  If you would like to know any more please drop us a line.

See you soon……..

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