Stem cell therapy is a form of alternative therapy that has been gaining momentum in the medical and veterinary fields as of late.
What is stem cell therapy? Simply put, this treatment involves putting new cells into damaged tissues in order to treat the damaged area. This new form of therapy is believed to be potentially revolutionary as far as healing pets (and humans) of conditions such as diabetes, muscle damage, and even cancer.
This article from Time describes a German Shepherd dog named Blue who began experiencing joint pain and limping at age three. Her owners learned that she had hip dysplasia which is not uncommon for larger dog breeds such as GSDs. They considered a hip replacement surgery but didn’t want Blue to be in recovery for 6 months. Instead, at the advice of their dog’s veterinarian, Blue’s owners opted for stem cell therapy.
The treatment, pioneered by Vet-Stem in San Diego, CA took only two days. Her vet removed a fatty tissue sample from Blue’s abdomen and sent it out to Vet-Stem’s labs where stem cells were extracted from the tissue. The stem cells were then injected into Blue’s hip where they developed good cartilage and tissue in the damaged area.
According to the article, “Blue was moving well, and you could see an ease in her gait” within 36 hours.
This and other forms of alternative therapies are becoming increasingly mainstream among veterinarians. Trupanion pet insurance now has optional coverage for alternative therapies such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy. The coverage does not yet include stem cell therapy.
A cycle of stem cell treatment including surgeries and follow-up costs around $2,000-$4,000.