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Stem Cell Therapy for Pets


stem cell therapy petsA recent scientific breakthrough is helping pets deal with the pain associated with arthritis as well as injuries to tendons and ligaments. An FDA approved technology now provides veterinarians a therapy utilizing Stem Cells.

We’ve all heard about the possible use of stem cells in treating various human ailments. Stem cells are the cells that have the “programming" to turn them into other specialized cells in many places in the body. For example, injected into an injured tendon, stem cells will “turn into” new tendon cells and thus initiate repair.

Use of human embryonic stem cells has proved very controversial. The difference in pet stem cell therapy is that we are using the pet's own adult body cells, to collect, separate and grow the stem cells. This is done by collecting a small quantity of fat from the pet. We use fat because it is rich with stem cells. Within 3 to 4 hours of collection the pet’s own stem cells are separated, grown and collected for injection into the affected joint or bloodstream.

The beauty of this process is that we are dealing with the pet’s pain in a very holistic manner, utilizing the pet’s own body to heal itself! Thus there may be no lifetime drugs to take, and best of all, there are very few, if any, side effects. Stem cell therapy (also known as regenerative therapy), heals the tissue itself, rather than just slowing the “degenerative” process as drugs do.

A veterinarian must be certified in this technique in order to perform the procedure and Dr. Newkirk is. Previous stem cell therapies required the shipping of cells to an outside laboratory for processing. The cells would be returned in a few days for injection. This of course, involved extra time and extra expense. Now Dr. Newkirk has the laboratory equipment in his hospital! This allows the procedure to be done in the same day! At about half the cost! This brings stem cell therapy into the affordable range for most people. (A financing plan is available if qualified).

Current approved indications for stem cell therapy are

(1) arthritis

(2) fracture healing

(3) tendon and ligament repair

The duration of effect is up to 18 months, with an 80% favorable response rate. This process has been used in clinical trials for the past 3 years and the results have been extremely promising. Over 2500 horses and 200 dogs have been successfully treated.

I am hopeful that stem cell therapy will prove to be “the answer” for pets in chronic pain from arthritis that do not seem to respond well to our normal procedures for pain relief. Or for athletes with chronic tendon or joint problems that is affecting performance. Special pet cases, known as ‘compassionate cases’ such as neurologic problems, inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease, are under conditional approval. That means that in special cases, we can apply for special approval to use the stem cells for other than the classic FDA approved cases. Applications for such pets are available at Newkirk Family Veterinarians. For many pets that have failed to recover from injury, surgery, disc problems, and for aging pets with crippling arthritis, stem cell therapy offers potentially life changing, and sometimes life saving treatment.

Dr. Mark Newkirk BS, MS, V.MD, University of Penn Graduate

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About the Author: Dr. Mark Newkirk, lecturer, seminar leader, and author, combines traditional medicine and surgery with holistic alternatives to access the best of both worlds to help your pet’s health.