Monday, April 19, 2010

Vet Stem: What is it & Why?

Ok, between the shave and mum's behind the door whispers with my Auntie Janice (who is my doctor), I had a lot of questions.

Finally, mum sat me down (I stood) and told me what was about to happen. As you know, I injured one of my elbows when I was 7 months old. The elbow has always caused me some discomfort, but we've been able to manage it pretty well over the last 9 years or so that my quality of life hasn't really been affected that much. Now at 10, my elbow is a little more sore than it used to be, but it still isn't too bad. However, I am now having some other orthopedic issues, some are secondary to my elbow problem.

For examples:

I have some arthritis in the spine because I've always had to stand a certain way, or walk a certain way to compensate for my bad elbow. Sometimes, my back feels very sore. Here is a video taken on 06-21-2009, (my back has never been that sore again since that day tho)

From time to time, my muscle around the shoulder area gets very sore, again, from over compensating due to the bad elbow. This video was taken when I had a very bad case of triceps tendinitis caused by the strain of the bad elbow. The elbow itself wasn't too sore. Video taken 12-04-09, and again, this has never happened again after the tendinitis was resolved.

Recently, mum noticed that I am starting to have some neurological issues (don't know what she's talking about) where I would periodically stumble either with my front end or hind end. Here is a video mum put together for my Auntie Janice because she's never seen me stumble in her clinic before. We think there's some narrowing of the spinal canal in the L6-L7 region that might be contributing to the problem. Video taken 04-15-10. Please ignore the captions on the latter half of the video, mum was joking around!!!!

(mum: I just want to say that Sunshade is RARELY as sore as she was in the videos above. In fact, both the back and shoulder muscle videos were a one time thing. Anytime anything worries me, I grab my camera and take a video of it so I can show the vet especially if its something that she doesn't do regularly. That being said, seeing her like that once or twice is enough to break my heart (especially when she looks at me with those soulful eyes). So I want to try and do everything in my power to help her.)

So as a result of all that, I am going to have a stem cell procedure done using the technology of the Vet-Stem company. The procedure will help my bad elbow feel better, and hopefully help with my sore back and hind leg weaknesses. It is relatively non-invasive as mum says she won't put me through anything invasive (like my knee surgeries) at this age (WHAT AGE???).

What is Vet-Stem?

The procedure involves getting some fat tissue out of an animal, and sending the tissue via overnight courier to a laboratory in San Diego, California where they will separate the adult stem cells from the fat tissue. They will then courier the separated stem cells back to the vet clinic where the effected joint/joints will be injected with the stem cells, as well as a dose intravenously. The fat collection is basically the only invasive part of the surgery as it does require the animal to be put under a general anesthetic while a 2.5 inch incision is made on the belly to harvest fat tissue.

Why Stem Cells?

Stem cells has the ability of becoming virtually any kind of cells in the body. They can differentiate into tendon, ligament, bone, cartilage, cardiac, nerve, muscle, blood vessels, fat, and liver tissue. In the case of my arthritic elbow, the cartilage in the joint is probably worn out or worn down. So once the stem cells are injected into the elbow joint directly, they can differentiate into whatever cell that is needed by the joint (ie, cartilage). Same with other joints.

When injected intravenously, stem cells travel to the tissue/organ that's in stress and try to restore optimal health by becoming specific tissue cells.

Vet Stem's technology has been available to race horses since 2003, and they have recently expanded into treatment of small animals. They are currently using it to treat ligaments/tendons, arthritis of all joints, elbow/hip dysplasia. The results have been amazing with happy hoomans and doggies! We still don't really know how long one injection lasts for, but that won't be an issue now that the company is able to "culture" and grow your stem cells after the initial collection. So an animal can have his own stem cells available for his life time. There are no ethical issues involved as the animal is using his own tissues and cells!

If you would like more information or want to find a vet that performs the stem cell procedure, please visit:

I'm lucky that my Auntie Janice does the surgery! She performed Canada's first Vet Stem procedure on a huge German Shepherd named "Keno" two years ago. It was Keno's last chance at quality of life as his knees weren't surgically repairable. Two years later, Keno is doing great!! I am hoping my elbow will feel great too after the procedure. Mum hopes that the intravenous injection will travel to my spine and help with my neuro issues (what neuro issues? I don't feel it!). (mum: exactly.....)

Now I'm just wondering, how is Auntie Janice gonna get any fat out of me? I'm all MUSCLE remember???


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brooke said...

awww! Those videos made me so sad! :( You looked so sad! Breaks my heart!
Good luck with your Stem Cell procedure! And thanks for the information! I've never heard of it before. Your mom is very smart to take videos of your walking and standing problems! I always hate that when Darwin does something at home and we take her to the vet to check it out, and she doesn't do it again. I'll need to keep that in mind!

Duke said...

We saw your tail down in your video and felt so badly, Sunshade. We hope the vet-stem procedure works for you and your stumbling and pain go away.

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Dexter said...

THose movies made me so sad, but the note from your mom to video sickies was really important because sometimes we act brave at the vet.

Good luck with your stem cells. Your mom is just wonderful to take such good care of you. Sorry that you have to go to the vet nekked.


Lorenza said...

Yes. Looking at you in the videos made me feel sad.
I am sure the stem cells procedure will make you feel better!
Take care
Kisses and hugs

DawgBlogger said...

Hi Sunshade!

So sad to go through all that pain. I know all about it. I had my stem cell treatment a year and a half ago and I'm doing goood!

Here's some but sniffs for you and hoping it will work as well for you as it did for me.


Inky and Molly said...

Oh, Honey. I have been a cripple like that before and I feel for you as I know exactly how much it sucks, whether you're a pup, 3 years old (moi) or 10! Poor baba. We hope the Stem Cell procedure will work for you and hopefully they will have it available for me here in Australia should I ever need it...