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Should you treat your dog with stem cell therapy for hip dysplasia or arthritis? If it helps people, why not animals?





Barbara J. Andrews, Publisher,


TV ads, and some physicians, promote stem cell therapy for people but does it work for canine joint disease and at what cost?


A recent news feed stated “Veterinarians at 23 clinics are participating in a clinical trial of a stem cell therapy for canine arthritis. The stem cells are derived from canine umbilical cords and injected into dogs' arthritic joints, and early study results are promising, says veterinarian Kathy Petrucci, founder and CEO of Animal Cell Therapies, which is sponsoring the studies.


True, medical doctors use your stem cells to “help the healing process of injured or degenerated joints.” Just like you, your dog’s body has billions of specialized cells that make up body parts beginning with brain and the body’s largest organ, the skin. Stem cells also build muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bone – in the laboratory.


Here’s what you need to know about claims for canine stem cell therapy, for people or for animals.


First, there’ a difference between “therapy” and “cure”. So look carefully at the stem cell concept for your pet with this basic understanding: The term "cure" means that, after medical "treatment", the patient no longer has that particular condition whereas other disease problems, like hepatitis B, have no cure. The person will always have the condition. Medical therapies or treatments can only help manage a disease or injury.


So let’s be optimistic and hope that stem cell treatment can help your dog. It depends on the physical problem. Most likely it is actually going to be therapy, not treatment but it may indeed help your dog’s arthritis or other problems associated with aging.


And yes, this stem cell information applies to you too. As mammals age, cells go through a process of degeneration and regeneration until we finally reach a stage wherein they lose their oomph, become worn out.


When your car engine groans, you get a new car. With your body it’s not so easy.  But stem cell therapy can cost as much as a new car … and it is not yet reliably successful.


So please understand that we’re talking about a therapy in pet animals that is only partially successful in humans. Skin cells have been used to grow grafts since the late 80s but overall stem cell success is iffy in people so you can be sure it is not yet reliable in animals. states “Bone marrow or fat derived stem cells may improve comfort for a limited time by mediating inflammation.


In some cases, if caught early enough (through testing developed by Dr. Schnelle [ref 1] canine hip or elbow dysplasia may be prevented or alleviated but there's truth in this grim assessment. Canine hip dysplasia that results in chronic pain and interferes with an active lifestyle is best treated with surgery.


As one of the country’s leading authorities, states “Bone marrow or fat derived stem cells may improve comfort for a limited time by mediating inflammation.”  That assessment is supported by the veterinary group which also says in part “Bone marrow or fat derived stem cells may improve comfort for a limited time by mediating inflammation.


You would do anything to help your aging or damaged dog. If you can afford stem cell therapy, by all means go for it. It may well provide pain relief and therefore, increased mobility. I offer this information, not to dissuade you from doing all that you can do to help your dog but to do so within your means and with full understanding of what is being offered.


And for the record, there is no basis to internet claims that “mixed breed” dogs are healthier or less likely to be affected by hip dysplasia or canine arthritis. Here is instant information on the unchallenged U.C. Davis ii Genetic Health Disorders Study that compared incidence of Purebred vs. Mixed Breed Common Genetic Problems.


This information will also be published in ShowSight the premier dog magazine. If you have tried the stem cell therapy for your dog (or yourself) please let us know results so we can share with other dog owners. Email me at


Ref 1 “Dr. Gerry Schnelle, who in 1937 published the first paper on what we now call canine hip dysplasia.” Google “, Schnelle, hip dysplasia” EST 1998 © 1710



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