Veterinary medicine has advanced leaps and bounds since its inception in the 18th century. Perhaps no procedure proves that more than canine stem cell therapy.
This regenerative treatment uses the innate power of stem cells to fight the inflammation that causes diseases like arthritis, epilepsy, chronic pain, and many more.
However, stem cell therapy can’t be used to address every condition. Some health problems simply won’t respond to stem cell therapy, since inflammation isn’t the root cause. Other conditions require other forms of treatment before stem cell therapy can act efficiently against the body’s inflammation.
If your pet has any of the following conditions, make sure you speak to a trusted and certified HUC-DT vet to learn more about the viability of stem cell therapy as a future treatment option.
Canine neurological conditions affect the brain, nerves, and spinal cords. Some symptoms are easy to notice, like persistent head shaking and loss of balance. Others might seem unrelated, like vision loss and decreased appetite. Most neurological conditions in dogs can be diagnosed through standard veterinary examinations, blood work, urinalysis, and MRI scans.
Though a neurological condition doesn’t permanently eliminate your dog’s ability to undergo stem cell therapy, it’s best to proceed with caution. First, confirm that your dog’s symptoms aren’t the result of an underlying disease like kidney failure or liver disease. Second, complete a full evaluation to identify the root cause of your dog’s neurological condition.
A problem like canine epilepsy can be successfully mitigated using stem cell therapy in otherwise healthy dogs, but some severe neurological conditions like spinal disease cannot.
About 1 in every 160 dogs suffers from diabetes, a dangerous condition marked by imbalanced blood sugar levels. Canine diabetes exhibits itself just like human diabetes. Common symptoms include increased urination, excessive thirst, sudden blindness, and pain in the legs.
Many pet owners mistake diabetes for arthritis and joint pain, since imbalanced blood sugar causes widespread pain in the body. If you notice your dog limping or becoming lame, it’s important to eliminate diabetes as a possible cause before committing to stem cell therapy.
Thyroid disease is similar to diabetes in the sense that it’s a physiological condition unaffected by stem cell therapy.
The thyroid is a small gland in your dog’s neck that’s responsible for producing hormones related to metabolism and body temperature. If your dog’s body stops secreting enough thyroid hormones, his metabolism will slow and the following symptoms will develop:
- Lack of activity and lethargy
- Hair loss and increased shedding
- Weight gain
- Intolerance to the cold
It’s also possible for your dog’s body to suddenly secret too many thyroid hormones. This places his body into a state of overactive metabolism that paves the way for difficult symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Increased thirst, appetite, and urination
- Enlarged heart, fast heart rate, or heart murmurs
Many diseases trigger symptoms very similar to hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, so it’s important for your dog to undergo careful blood work and evaluation in order to identify the true root cause of his condition. Thyroid issues are often treatable with hormone replacement compounds, but stem cell therapy can’t do much to change or improve thyroid activity.
Nearly 10% of all dogs in the United States get heart disease. Just as in humans, canine heart disease manifests itself in different ways. The cause and severity of the disease both influence whether stem cell therapy is a viable therapy option.
Congestive heart failure is an advanced type of heart disease that occurs when your dog’s heart can’t pump blood throughout the body. Blood and fluid accumulate until oxygen can no longer reach its destination. There’s very little that stem cell therapy can do to alleviate the coughing, constant panting, and difficulty breathing that heart failure causes.
Some pet owners do opt to use stem cell therapy to keep their dogs comfortable as they battle heart failure, but it’s not a treatment or a cure.
The relationship between stem cell therapy and cancer treatment isn’t widely established, especially in dogs.
Many cancers have harsh inflammatory components, so it’s possible that stem cell therapy could strengthen the body in its fight against cancer and alleviate painful symptoms. At the same time, current research doesn’t guarantee that stem cells won’t strengthen cancer cells as they also improve the body’s immune response.
Until more research identifies whether stem cell therapy supports or compromises cancer treatment, it’s best to wait at least a year into remission before giving your dog stem cell therapy.
While there’s no indication that stem cell therapy is harmful to pregnant or nursing dogs, there’s also no proof that it’s completely safe. This is why it’s best to withhold stem cell therapy until pregnancy and nursing have concluded. The same precautionary rules apply to pregnant and nursing women as well to prevent any potential complications.
Mannitol therapy is a well-known treatment for severe head trauma and swelling in dogs and cats. It works as an osmotic diuretic to reduce intraocular pressure, intracranial pressure, and brain size. However, this life saving treatment doesn’t combine well with stem cell therapy. Mannitol crosses the blood-brain barrier and opens the body’s circulation, so any additional medications or therapies may lead to further problems.
As a safety precaution, it’s best to postpone stem cell therapy until mannitol therapy ends and your dog’s head trauma heals.
Can Your Dog Have Stem Cell Therapy?
Overall, stem cell therapy is a safe regenerative treatment that has the power to improve your dog’s quality of life and minimize his pain. You can easily maximize your dog’s ability to receive stem cell therapy by making sure he undergoes comprehensive blood work every year.
The earlier that health complications are found, the more effectively they can be treated. If you wait until your dog turns 8 to receive blood work, he may be one of the three out of five middle age pets to have irregular blood work results. Any irregularities could reveal a condition that prevents stem cell therapy from being performed.
By working closely with an experienced stem cell therapy veterinarian, you can make sure that your dog gets the best medical attention possible.