Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs

little dog with big stick

A company called Vet-Stem, which is based in San Diego, California, has started offering stem cell therapy treatment for dogs with arthritis or tendon and ligament injuries.

The company claims to have successfully treated 3,000 horses with tendon and ligament injuries since 2004, and is now offering a similar treatment for dogs via veterinary surgeons trained by Vet-Stem.

The stem cell therapy treatment takes place as follows:

  • your dog is anesthetized and two tablespoons of fat are taken, usually from his abdomen or around the shoulder blade;
  • the fat cells are sent to a Vet-Stem laboratory where the stem and regenerative cells are isolated;
  • these isolated cells are returned to your dog’s vet in ready-to-inject syringes; and
  • your dog is treated by a course of injections.

Studies by clinics using this procedure on dogs with osteoarthritis and orthopedic soft tissue injuries show the benefit of each injection to last from several months to over a year.

According to Robert Harman DVM and founder of Vet-Stem, the treatment works because stem cells do more than just morph into the required body tissue – they provide growth factors and chemicals that help the injury heal by, amongst other things, reducing inflammation and preventing scar tissue from forming.

This sounds good, but as with all new therapy treatments the long term effects are as yet unknown.

The treatment is costly – according to a Live Science article it ranges from US$2,000 to $3,000 – but may be worth considering as a treatment option if you have an arthritic dog who’s in severe pain and has difficulty moving around.

The Vet-Stem web site has more information about stem cell therapy for dogs and lists the vet’s it has trained to apply the treatment.

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  1. are there any free stem cell test treatments for aging large dogs with hip problems in the san diego area my great dane can participate in? if so email me please . a big dog in pain!

  2. Our black lab injured his cruciate ligament. The surgery that he needs costs $3,000. Beside the cost, our big concern was that he is very active, never stops moving, and the surgeon pretty much said any jumping, running, twisting movements within the 8 week recovery period may reinjure it and the surgery would have to be redone.

    Our regular vet mentioned this stem cell therapy and we are looking into it. The cost sounds like it is about the same as surgery. We have at least one center in New Hampshire where we live that performs it.

    Please email me if you have considered this and gone through with it, or decided not to, at Thanks.

    Steve, to answer your question, my research shows that San Diego is a huge area of research in this field. I hope your Great Dane is doing well.

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