If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already worried about your dog’s health.
Maybe arthritis has robbed your pet of their natural energy and enthusiasm, or perhaps an unexpected injury changed them from a playful pup into a disabled dog overnight.
It’s heartbreaking, stressful, and frustrating to watch your dog experience pain, especially when you’re not sure how to help them feel better. Surgery isn’t always the right answer, and even if it could help, it’s usually cost-prohibitive. So where can you turn for answers?
More than ever before, pet owners are now turning to an unexpected source to give their dogs a new lease on life: stem cell therapy.
Traditional Surgery Isn’t Always Best for Injured Dogs
Your dog thrives on routine, from their early morning walk outside to their evening game of fetch. Animals don’t simply change their minds or become bored with an activity — only chronic pain or injury can diminish your pet’s zest for life.
It’s common for pet owners to assume that their dog’s lost interest in long walks and resistance to playing outside are just signs of aging, but those behavior changes are more likely driven by pain. Many dogs, especially older dogs, are vulnerable to arthritis, ACL tears, and other injuries that force them to deviate from normal habits.
Your vet might recommend surgery to address your dog’s health concerns, but traditional surgery is fraught with risks and challenges.
Surgery Can’t Always Fix the Problem
There are certain health problems that simply can’t be fixed with surgery. Dog arthritis is a prime example. Even if a surgeon could remove some of your dog’s joint damage, arthritis is a degenerative condition that will continue to harm the joints after surgery.
In these cases, surgery is nothing more than a Band-Aid solution.
The Cost of Surgery Is Unrealistic for Most Pet Owners
The cost of surgery is extremely prohibitive. Whether it’s hip surgery, knee surgery, or anything in between, the initial surgery is likely to cost at least $3,000. When you add in the costs of anesthesia, recovery medications, and blood work, that figure creeps even higher.
To make matters worse, you’re not just looking at the initial cost of surgery — many dogs require secondary surgery on the other side of their body. Secondary surgery is especially common with ACL repairs — about 50% of dogs blow their other ACL just a few months or years after undergoing surgery on the first ACL. This doubles the cost of medical care.
You might not have $10,000 sitting in savings, or if you do, it’s probably earmarked for retirement, college funds, or home repairs. The costs involved in surgery are simply unrealistic for most pet owners.
How Can Stem Cells Replace Surgery?
Stem cells exist naturally in the human and canine body alike. Any time the body suffers an injury, stem cells are responsible for anchoring themselves to damaged tissues, recruiting other cells, proteins, and growth factors in the area, and stimulating the healing process.
Since stem cells exist in an undefined state until an injury occurs, they can morph into any type of cell that needs to be repaired or replaced. They’re uniquely powerful and support the healing process in a way that no other cells can.
However, the body’s natural stem cell system isn’t always powerful enough to overcome severe injuries like arthritis or ACL tears. Stem cell therapy infuses the injured area of the body with extra stem cells to trigger a large-scale stem cell collaboration.
This process accelerates and strengthens the body’s normal healing process. In the end, stem cell therapy can decrease pain and inflammation, help your dog feel more comfortable, and even prevent future damage.
The Original Stem Cell Therapy: Autologous Stem Cells
The use of stem cell therapy for dogs emerged in the early 21st century thanks to the work of Dr. Brian Voynick of the American Animal Hospital. He took stem cells directly from canine patients, processed the cells, and injected them back into the dog’s site of injury to stimulate healing.
This was a ground-breaking process at the time, allowing vets to use an autologous method of stem cell therapy to successfully treat dogs with hip dysplasia, knee problems, and other joint conditions. It was found to be safe and bring benefits to animal health.
What Are Autologous Stem Cells?
Autologous stem cells are cells collected from an animal or human and injected back into the same animal or human. This form of stem cell therapy is most commonly performed with mesenchymal stem cells obtained from bone marrow or fat.
In other words, autologous stem cell therapy collects healthy stem cells from a dog’s bone marrow and injects those cells back into the same dog to heal and replace damaged and diseased cells.
The Pros of Autologous Stem Cell Therapy
Autologous stem cell therapy is shown to support natural healing for injured dogs. This process also offers the ability to freeze any leftover stem cells or blood remaining after the procedure. Though this does incur a monthly storage cost, it’s a possibility that some pet owners find reassuring for any future needs.
What Are the Cons of Autologous Stem Cell Therapy?
There’s no doubt that autologous stem cell therapy has the power to improve your dog’s health, but it isn’t always an efficient process.
To begin, standard autologous stem cell therapy initially only delivered a maximum of 1,000 stem cells per ml. The true concentrate of stem cells is often lower since injections become contaminated with dead fat cells and other debris. This is why autologous stem cells must be processed in a lab to have their reactivity and preservation boosted.
Traditional stem cell therapy also requires two rounds of anesthesia for every canine patient, which can be risky and traumatizing. One round of anesthesia occurs when stem cells are harvested through aspiration of bone marrow or surgical removal of fat. The next round occurs a few weeks later after the autologous stem cells are processed and ready for transplantation.
Considering that anesthesia poses risks to canines, especially the senior dogs who are more likely to need stem cell therapy, this process forces the body to process more trauma than is necessary.
Another downside to traditional stem cell therapy involves the role of the veterinarian. Most veterinarians outsource their autologous stem cell procedures to laboratories since the equipment is too expensive and complex to manage on-site. Other than the anesthesia and basic surgery, the most important parts of an autologous stem cell procedure are completed off-site by unknown strangers.
Even with so many downsides and risks, autologous stem cell therapy is very expensive. Just one standard procedure can range from $6,000 to $10,000. This extremely high cost is unavoidable due to the two rounds of anesthesia, surgical bills, and other hidden costs, yet in the end only 1,000 stem cells per ml are available to improve your dog’s health.
The New Approach for Dogs: Xenogenic Stem Cells
Xenogenic stem cells offer a more affordable and efficient option for pet owners eager to take advantage of the health benefits of stem cell therapy.
Instead of using stem cells from the canine patient, xenogenic stem cell therapy utilizes stem cells from a different, human source. This method not only emphasizes the unique bond between dogs and humans, but also enables unprecedented healing potential.
What Are Xenogenic Stem Cells?
After a baby is born, the umbilical cord and placenta both contain blood that can be collected with no risk to the mother or baby. That blood contains rare and potent stem cells that have incredible medical potential thanks to their ability to make every type of cell in the blood.
Cord blood has long been overlooked, thrown away, and destroyed, but xenogenic stem cell therapy recognizes that cord blood stem cells can be harnessed to improve the lives of injured animals. Cord blood is safely collected from mothers who voluntarily donate their cells upon the birth of their babies, and The National Tissue Bank makes all viable donated cord blood stem cells available to veterinarians for use in stem cell therapy treatments.
What Are the Pros of Xenogenic Stem Cell Therapy?
Xenogenic stem cell therapy, also known as HUC-DT stem cell therapy, far exceeds the efficiency and safety of autologous stem cell therapy.
Most importantly, HUC-DT therapy delivers about 5 million stem cells per ml. This supports a deep and thorough healing response that can stop, reverse, and prevent many canine injuries and diseases. Even given a worst-case scenario in which half of all stem cells don’t survive their transport into a dog’s body, 2.5 million viable stem cells are still capable of triggering accelerated healing.
HUC-DT stem cell therapy for dogs also offers the highest level of purity. All cells undergo a proprietary fractionation process that removes non-viable cells and allows for a very high cell count-to-volume ratio, but they are never subjected to preservatives or hormones. Xenogenic stem cells are only washed in saline, flash-frozen, and shipped directly to the veterinarian on the day of the transfusion.
Since xenogenic stem cells are obtained without forcing canine patients to endure the painful stem cell harvesting process, no anesthesia is required for this therapy. Once delivered to the veterinarian, xenogenic stem cells are directly infused into the area of injury using a simple, painless IV.
Thanks to its simple and streamlined process, HUC-DT therapy is more affordable than autologous stem cell therapy. One procedure costs about $2,000, and its powerful 5 million stem cells per ml have the potential to stimulate so much healing that a second procedure is never needed!
Xenogenic stem cell therapy also sets itself apart from traditional autologous therapy because it can only be performed by certified veterinarians. Every certified Stem Cells for Dogs veterinarian has completed a comprehensive training program and is held to the highest standards and strictest regulations during every procedure.
What Are the Cons of Xenogenic Stem Cell Therapy?
Since xenogenic stem cells are entirely fresh and pure, they must be shipped on dry ice and used within 72 hours of shipment, which restricts scheduling flexibility.
Payment must also be provided before the stem cells can be shipped and used, due to their delicate nature.
Furthermore, refreezing leftover stem cells isn’t an option since it could hurt the bioavailability of the remaining cells.
How to Make the Right Choice for Your Dog
If you’re determined to help your dog regain their health using a safe and natural treatment, stem cell therapy is an exciting option. It’s important to keep in mind that no stem cell products, for animals or humans, have been approved by the FDA. However, the future is promising, and stem cell research expands significantly every year.
Your veterinarian can’t guarantee how stem cells will react in your pet since stem cells are completely natural biological substances, but the results from past procedures speak for themselves.
The team at Stem Cells for Dogs has never observed a bad effect from xenogenic stem cells — the response is either extremely positive or, in the worst-case scenario, neutral. We believe wholeheartedly in the power of HUC-DT stem cell therapy to help your own dog regain their energetic spirit, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.