Stem cell therapy helps dogs with arthritis

Stem cell therapy helps dogs with arthritis

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TOWNE LAKE, Ga. -

Doctors have used stem cells to treat the injuries of elite athletes, but now they are being used to help keep man's best friend out of too much pain.

Dr. Sherry Weaver is treating 7-year-old Walker Hound, Satchmo, for pain. Satchmo suffers, like millions of animals, from arthritis in his hips. Weaver says he is still healing and a little slow, but is doing much better.

"His joint was not moving the correct direction. And it was wearing down that cartilage and that cartilage was thin as paper. In some places, you had bone on bone," says Dr. Weaver, the Animal Hospital of Towne Lake.

And it was painful, but hope and new life came in the form of the dog's own cells. He was a perfect candidate for stem cell therapy.

"We take a sample of fat. The fat can be taken from multiple locations and we process that fat," says Weaver. "And at the end, what we're left with is these tubes of cells, live cells."

Some of the live cells are then injected into the joint where cartilage lies. The rest of the cells are injected into the animal's veins. The result, which for Satchmo is still a couple of weeks away, will be life-changing.

"Satchmo will go back to jumping up. Mom and dad will walk in and it's like, 'Hi!' Instead of 'Okay, I'm getting up,'" says Weaver.

Dr. Weaver says all the possible side effects are positive. After having the procedure, pet owners notice an improvement in their pet's skin and other conditions.

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