I’ve been a small animal veterinarian for over ten years now, but I’ve been an animal lover my entire life. I treasure my dogs like I treasure my children, and I extend that same love to every animal I care for as a veterinarian.
It’s my belief that the most effective vets don’t approach their patients strictly from a medical standpoint, but from a combination of professional medical training and human compassion. This is especially true for dogs. There’s simply no way to deny the unique bond that humans share with their pups.
Just like the pet owners that come into my clinic each day, I’d do absolutely anything to keep my dogs healthy, safe, and happy. In fact, my 11-year-old chocolate lab named Nestle is the reason that I became a canine stem cell advocate.
My Journey With Nestle
Nestle was my first dog and my first real baby. I adopted her more than a decade ago when I was putting myself through vet school, and since that day Nestle has been my constant companion. She comes to work with me, she hikes and swims with me… She’s my favorite companion. On the rare occasion that I had to go somewhere alone, Nestle would always greet me at the door with a squeaky toy in her mouth and the purest form of excitement on her face.
Unfortunately, enjoying such an active life took its toll on Nestle’s body. You can imagine that as a medical professional I took every precaution to keep Nestle as healthy as possible. I carefully managed her weight, supplemented with the best nutraceuticals, and stayed alert for any signs of trouble.
It took nine and a half years, but one day when I returned home, Nestle didn’t greet me at the door.
No pattering of her paws, no squeaky toy dropping to the floor. Just silence. I ran frantically to find Nestle and found her lying in her bed. As I walked through the door, she just looked up at me. She didn’t even move to come closer or lick me hello. I knew instantly that something was wrong.
Nestle, my crazy, energetic, always underfoot lab, suddenly wasn’t. I knew she wasn’t a pup anymore, but I hadn’t expected her to become a senior citizen overnight. The wear and tear of countless tennis ball throws and frisbee tosses, dock dives and mountain climbs had finally revealed itself.
From that day on, Nestle’s arthritis aggressively stripped away her physical abilities. I devoted our time to physical therapy, loaded up on NSAIDs for her pain relief, and contemplated the potential for surgery. All the while, Nestle became less and less active. Her favorite activities that once filled our evenings and weekends became too strenuous and painful for Nestle to even attempt.
It shattered my heart to watch Nestle cope with her pain and discomfort. Soon she could barely put weight on her leg. She could barely sit down. Instead of leaping effortlessly into my Jeep to head out on an adventure, Nestle couldn’t even cross the threshold of the front door.
Arthritis had robbed Nestle not just of the lifestyle she loved and the activities that bonded us together, but it had stolen her spirit.
I Knew What Was Coming, But I Couldn’t Accept It
After treating arthritic dogs for so many years, I knew exactly what the future had in store for Nestle. The problem was, I couldn’t accept it.
I already knew Nestle’s options:
- Rely on medications such as NSAIDs, tramadol, and gabapentin for the rest of her life. Though these medications could reduce her pain, they’d also take a huge toll on her liver and organ system and deteriorate her health even more.
- Continue to use nutraceuticals such as fish oil, CBD oil, and glucosamine to lubricate Nestle’s joints and keep her as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, these options aren’t powerful enough to make a difference on their own.
- Pay thousands of dollars for a risky and painful surgery that may or may not deliver results. Surgery would force Nestle to endure the trauma of anesthesia and then remain immobile for up to four weeks.
- No pet owner wants to consider this final option, but it’s sometimes the only solution: euthanasia. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stood beside heartbroken, sobbing pet owners as their dogs look up with wagging tails, soulful eyes, and legs that just can’t move anymore.
I also knew that Nestle’s arthritis wouldn’t be her only health problem. She was mere days or weeks away from blowing her ACL as a result of arthritic strain, and I simply couldn’t accept any of the four treatment options available. That’s when I decided to search for an alternative.
Searching for an Alternative Therapy
Watching Nestle’s body slowly deteriorate gave me an entirely new appreciation of the agony my patients experience every day. I realized that I wasn’t willing to settle for the so-called “solutions” to arthritis and chronic pain that were commonly prescribed.
Instead, I launched a search for an alternative therapy. Something, anything, to stave off surgery and help Nestle regain her passion for life. Just like Penicillin and potato chips were invented by mistake, I accidentally stumbled upon the concept of stem cell therapy, and just like that, it changed the entire future for Nestle, my family, and my canine patients. Stem cell therapy offered the glimmer of hope I had prayed I could find.
My initial research into stem cell therapy focused on autologous therapy. This process would have involved putting Nestle under anesthesia, harvesting stem cells from her fat or bone marrow, processing the stem cells to make them as potent as possible, and putting Nestle back under anesthesia to deliver those stem cells into her joints.
I was eager to explore the potential of stem cells to support and accelerate healing in Nestle’s body, but I wasn’t keen on putting her under anesthesia multiple times. So I kept pushing and searching until I connected with researchers who introduced me to the use of human stem cells to treat canines.
Nestle became one of the first dogs to receive this cutting-edge regenerative therapy. No drugs, no anesthesia, just a tiny little IV bag full of human stem cells with the power to reduce Nestle’s pain and alleviate her arthritis.
The Results of Nestle’s Stem Cell Therapy
A week passed without much change, but I wasn’t discouraged because I knew that stem cells can take up to three months to work their magic.
However, I didn’t have to wait nearly that long for results. Only two weeks after Nestle’s stem cell therapy, I came home to a sight and sound I had sorely missed — Nestle trotted up to the door and greeted me with a squeaky toy in her mouth!
From that day on, Nestle continued to show improvements almost on a daily basis. She became more lively, alert, and energetic. I could practically feel a new sense of brightness and happiness radiating from her body as she embraced the lifestyle she had once lost.
The most significant change occurred about a month after Nestle’s stem cell therapy procedure. It was a normal weekend at home and I was inside doing some work when I heard my kids shouting and laughing from the backyard. I ran out to the patio to see my kids chasing Nestle around the yard as she played a game of keep away with the bocce ball.
I could feel tears in my eyes as I watched my girls running and chasing Nestle around the yard, screaming and having fun. I truly never thought I’d see that again.
That was the moment I knew I needed to share the healing potential of stem cell therapy with my patients. Stem cell therapy gave Nestle a second chance at life. Every injured dog deserves to have that same chance.
My Mission: Stem Cells for Dogs
I was ready to shout the benefits of stem cell therapy from every rooftop in my town, but I first needed to confirm that Nestle’s results weren’t the exception to the rule. My veterinary partner and I offered stem cell therapy to five elderly dogs at our clinic. We helped our clients cover the costs of the procedure, explained the science of stem cell therapy, and waited anxiously for the results.
Once again, it only took a few weeks to identify significant positive changes in all five canine patients. Our clients were thrilled, our patients were healthier, and we were ready to embrace Stem Cells for Dogs.
When I became a veterinarian, I took an oath to do no harm. But my goal as a vet is so much more than that. I don’t just provide medicine and exams to my patients; I also offer the compassion and support to strengthen the bonds between pet owners and their pets.
I’ve been with clients as they’ve welcomed new puppies and celebrated new life, and I’ve held my clients’ hands as they mourned the loss of family pets and beloved friends. There’s no way to describe the ebb and flow between dogs and humans, but it’s a dynamic bond that can leave you speechless.
I’m so grateful that I can use stem cell therapy to help pet owners and dogs alike. If stem cell therapy can save dogs from euthanasia, restore their ability to run and play, and give pet owners a few more years of time with their favorite companions, then it’s a success in my book.