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By Sharyl Mayhew CPDT, LVT
Published: April 08, 2011

I started working with dogs as a trainer in the early 80’s. Over the years, my dogs and I competed in Conformation, Obedience, Carting, Herding and a variety of other interesting sports and training opportunities. I have enjoyed every dog I ever lived, trained and played with and I have suffered when they suffered from injury or arthritic pain. Competition dogs are usually well muscled and fit but they still suffer sports related injuries or genetic joint disease as they age and they are still beloved "just plain pets" always regardless of any ribbons or pedigree fame they earned. 
 
After 30 years living with dogs and for the past 20 years working in the veterinary industry, I have learned a lot. I am amazed at how far veterinary science has evolved from "shots and prayer" to medical care that rivals and sometimes surpasses what humans can expect from primary care physicians. 
 
At VCA-University Veterinary Clinic we are standing on the brink of cutting edge therapies and pride ourselves on always learning.    Our doctor has a plaque in his office that reminds us to "Always Learn". When we learned about Vet-Stem Regenerative Veterinary Medicine and reviewed some of the information and testimonials on Vet-Stem’s website www.vet-stem.com we became very excited and immediately signed up to learn more about the technique and to become approved to provide this service.
 
As I read about what this type of therapy could do, I was very excited about the dogs I knew we would help but also saddened thinking of all the pets over the years that didn’t live long enough to benefit from these amazing innovations and scientific breakthroughs. Of course, this is true for people as well. How many of us have lost loved-ones in years past that could have been saved by new technology, better surgical skill or medicine?   
 
What dogs can we help?
Any dog who is not responding to NSAID painkillers or who isn’t able to take them. 
A dog that is not a surgical candidate for orthopedic surgery.
A dog with a condition that would make him need long term pain medications.
 
Currently this therapy is used for Canine Arthritis and tendon or ligament injuries. The therapy involves harvesting fat from the dog patient and sending that sample to Vet-Stem in California. At Vet-Stem’s state of the art laboratory the stem cells are isolated and extracted from the animal’s own fat. The stem cells are cleaned, tested and packaged and returned to UVC for injection into the pet. A portion of the prepared stem cells is retained at Vet-Stem to be banked for future use by that pet dog should he need it.
 
The stored stem cells will remain available for the lifetime of your pet! The entire procedure takes 48 hours; for example, you would bring your dog in on a Tuesday for the short surgery to remove a fat sample. The sample would ship overnight to Vet-Stem and processed that Wednesday and the stem cells prepared for injection would be shipped overnight back to us. On Thursday, you would return with your dog and he would have the injection(s) performed and go home that afternoon. 
 
The aftercare includes:
 
Restricted activity for a short time
Mild physical therapy that you perform on your dog at home – range of motion and mild stretching exercises.
Application of cold packs, and later warm compresses, to the treated joint area(s) for a few minutes each day. 
Slowly increasing physical activity over the course of a few weeks.
Periodic completion of evaluation forms showing levels of progress and improvement in your pet to help Vet-Stem and UVC care for your dog and others in the future.
 
If, in the future, your dog needs another round of stem cells injected for any reason, you would simply order a dose from Vet-Stem and arrange to have it injected the day it arrives at UVC. 
 
This technology is always evolving, imagine what stem cells might be able to do in the future? I am thinking that we are all lucky to be part of the here and now and thrilled to be looking to the future. What if, in years to come, we can treat heart or kidney disease with the dog’s own stored stem cells? What if, RIGHT NOW, we can eliminate pain and help our friends live comfortably in their golden years? What if every time we performed a spay or neuter, we harvested fat and sent it to Vet-Stem to be processed and have them store the stem cells for later in that dog’s life? Just think of all the possibilities!!

If you think your dog might be a candidate for stem cell regenerative therapy, please call Dr. Jackson and schedule an evaluation. Have a look at the Vet-Stem website and testimonial videos at www.vet-stem.com

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