two dogs are the first locally to receive stem-cell
therapy for arthritis in a procedure allowing the entire
process to be done during the same veterinary clinic
"Both of the pets did well," said Dr. Wiliam Latter, the
veterinarian at All Creatures Animal Clinic in south
"They seemed to tolerate it well."
Wednesday was a long day for dogs and owners, however,
with Brody a bit baffled because this visit to All
Creatures didn't result in the doggie massage he's been
getting there weekly for his stiffness and pain.
Instead, the 8-year-old Bernese Mountain dog went under
anesthesia. X-rays were taken of his hips. Latter and an
assistant carried his furry, 125-pound body into a
procedure room to extract fat from between his shoulder
"You only need about a tablespoon of fat," said Lynn
Marcum, distributor for the Florida branch of MediVet,
which sells the stem-cell procedure kit to veterinarians
and shows them how to use it.
Although dogs are featured on the company's ads, the
procedure also can be used on horses, cats and other
As Brody rested in a large cage, waking up with a dazed
look, his fat tissue went to a back room for processing.
Previous stem-cell treatments required sending the stem
cell-laden fat away to a separate lab to be separated out,
Latter hasn't used earlier stem-cell procedures because of
the need to send the cells away
"They're your own stem cells going back in," Marcum said.
"There's no worry about rejection."
Separating the stem cells from the fat, putting them
through an enzyme wash, combining them with platelet-rich
plasma from the animal's own blood and activating both
under low-level laser light is the longest part of the
It can take three or four hours, starting with mincing the
fat until it's at the stage of a slushie, before the
activated stem cells are ready to be injected into the
animal's aching joint.
As they separated and prepped
the cells, Brody's humans, Alison and Scott Taylor, waited
beside their pet
"We just want him to be healthy," Alison Taylor said,
explaining that Brody has had dysplasia for five years.
She heard about the procedure on television, researched it
and talked to Latter about the procedure.
Waiting along with them was Andrea Nelson, one of Gracie's
two owners, who does the massage, water therapy and
weight-loss programing for animals at All Creatures.
Gracie, calm throughout the day, went through a process
identical to Brody's: remove tissue, separate stem cells,
activate them and return to the body.
Gracie, 13, is a Labrador retriever who has arthritis, hip
dysplasia and dysplasia of the elbows (where the front
Although Nelson and co-owner Donya-Faye Wix give her
swimming and other therapies to keep her limber, Nelson
said they wanted to try the procedure to reduce her pain.
"You're making the choice because you know they'll feel
better, but it's nerve-racking," Nelson said. "We wanted
to do everything we could for her."
That included stopping for cheese pizza on the way home
from their full day at the veterinary clinic.
Brody was a little sore the day
after the procedure, Alison Taylor said, but she added
that she could see him putting more weight on his left
front leg than he had before the procedure.
Animals may experience an energy boost soon after the
procedure. It takes three weeks to four weeks for the stem
cells to create restorative growth in the afflicted
joints, Marcum said.