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Stem Cell Treatment for Arthritis

Most equine veterinarians are familiar with the use of stem cells to treat various joint ailments, but this is a relatively new phenomenon for small animal veterinarians. At Santa Cruz Westside Animal Hospital, a 2 year old Bernese Mountain Dog was their first patient to receive stem cell therapy for a painfully arthritic elbow joint. “Cooper”‘s owners were given two treatment options for his painful leg, joint replacement surgery or amputation. Not liking either option, they started searching for something else and foundstem cell therapy.

Cooper had minor surgery to remove some fat from his abdomen. This fat was specially processed by a lab to isolate the stem cells, which were sent back to Santa Cruz Westside Animal Hospital and injected directly into Cooper’s elbow. Within days, Cooper was back to almost normal movement.

Certainly not an inexpensive treatment, costing $2000 – $3000, this therapy is something that will be used in extreme cases such as Cooper’s but if successful for the long-term, it may revolutionize the treatment of arthritis in our pets. Some researchers say that it will be several years before judgment can be passed on the effectiveness of this therapy for our dogs. Dogs will need a repeated treatment in 6 to 18 months in about 25% of the cases because of the nature of arthritis.

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Veterinary Technical Services Department

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