Stem Cell Regenerative Therapy

Soft tissue injuries and osteoarthritis are common conditions in dogs. These injuries are due to the forces placed on the joints and are more common in working dogs because of the repetitive injuries and microtrauma to tendons, ligaments, and articular surfaces. The degenerative arthritic changes progress throughout your dog’s life.

Most therapies treat symptoms or may slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy treats symptoms, slows the disease, decreases pain and consumption of pain medications, and repairs some or most of the damaged tissue. It will improve your pet’s quality of life.

A stem cell is characterized by its ability to divide and create another cell like itself and by its potential to become many different types of cells. There are two broad types of stem cells:

Embryonic stem cells – Found in a developing embryo, embryonic stem cells are intended to form a whole animal or organ and have unlimited potential of development into any type of tissue. In human medicine, ethical and legal debates surround the use of embryonic stem cells for research and therapy; such controversy does not exist with the use of adult stem cells.

Adult stem cells – Found in most adult tissues, adult stem cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing specialized cells and maintaining the normal turnover of regenerative organs, such blood, skin, or cartilage. Adult stem cells are also multi-potent, meaning the cells have the potential to differentiate themselves to become various types of cells.

In dogs, stem cells and other regenerative cells are obtained from subcutaneous or abdominal adipose tissue (fat). Adipose tissue is a preferred source in dogs over bone marrow for several reasons, including ease of access, high-yielding stem cell count as compared to bone marrow, and the fact that fat is a renewable source. The stem cells, along with a mix of other regenerative cells within the adipose tissue, are isolated and then injected directly into the injured tissue or joint and/or injected intravenously. These cells are always obtained from the intended recipient (autograft), eliminating the risk of rejection and disease transmission.

The mechanisms by which these regenerative and stem cells initiate change within the body is complex. When an injury occurs, chemical signals and pathways are created that lead stem cells to the area of trauma. The stem cells then release growth factors and other chemicals, and stimulate resident tissue stem cells. These cells have the ability to decrease inflammation, reduce and/or reverse scar tissue formation, improve blood flow to the tissues, and block cell death.

Stem Cell Regenerative Therapy has been used in the following conditions with reported favorable outcomes:

  • Canine osteoarthritis – hip, elbow, knee
  • Canine immune-mediated rheumatoid arthritis

Please call us for a consultation at (206) 545-4322. After a thorough examination, our doctors will determine if your pet is a candidate for this therapy, and will discuss procedure details and answer all of your questions.

Harvesting fat tissue is done by surgical procedure under anesthesia. The tissue is sent overnight to the Vet-Stem Lab for processing. When the cells are returned to us, you pet will go under anesthesia one more time to allow painless and accurate injection of the stem cells.

In some cases, the Vet-Stem Lab may harvest more stem cells than we can use. The lab will save these cells for you for one year free-of-charge. These cells can be injected 6-12 months later.

  • Dogs that have not responded to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Dogs that cannot tolerate non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Dogs that are not good candidates for orthopedic surgery
  • Dogs that have early arthritis
  • Dogs that have multiple joints affected by arthritis