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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: Stem Cell procedures in dogs – part 2

Stem Cell Procedures for Dogs: the miracle we were looking for…

in the grassAbout a month a go I published a post regarding a stem cell procedure that we had done for our chocolate lab, Sam.  I said I would post an update on how this procedure has impacted Sam in another 30 days.  Here it is…

In the last month Sam’s quality of life has changed dramatically.  For context; prior to his stem cell injections Sam was at the point where he could only walk for about 5-10 feet before he had to lay down and rest due to pain from the arthritis in his elbows and hips.  Sam has never had normal legs.  His front legs are bowed to the point that he can not bend them  – he never has been able to bend his legs in the time we have known him (we rescued him 8 years ago).  Every vet that has examined Sam has always told us the same thing…it is the worst case of arthritis they have ever seen in a dog (especially to see a dog afflicted as young as he was with arthritis).

sam up

We are now about 7+ weeks out from the stem cell procedure and Sam is doing better than we could have hoped.  Sam isn’t just going on nice long walks (twice a day) but he has taken up running on his walks..it has been so long since he has been able to run.  My husband and I couldn’t be happier with the progress Sam has made.  When we had the final sit down with our vet 8 weeks ago to talk about Sam’s legs…knowing we were at a point where we had to either do something dramatic for Sam or let him go…. we told our vet (Central Kentucky Vets) that what we were looking for was a miracle…it appears we have received it.

Here is some video of Sam in the park with us earlier this week…not only is he running and fetching but as you can see he is one happy dog.  It was just about 8 weeks ago that we never could have imagined Sam fetching a ball again (well chasing a ball, he has never quite gotten the fetch and return part :)).

Here is a recap of how things have progressed since Sam’s stem cell procedure:

  • First week after the procedure:  Sam was terribly sore.  The first few days after procedure, other than to get up to eat and potty, Sam did not want to move much.   We were advised to get him walking as much as possible and as soon as possible.  This was hard, certainly for him but also for us as we felt horrible for adding to his joint pain, but he did it…our Sam is one tough cookie.  Basically, the first week after the procedure completely sucked.
  • Second week after the procedure:  Sam started wanting to move around more than the first week.  He volunteered for his walks as opposed to us having to goad him.  He was going on short walks a few times per day, longer than the week prior, but very slow and with a lot of resting.  Sam remained very stiff when he first got up from resting.
  • 30 days in: Sam’s walking started improving a lot.  His walks were getting longer, faster and he was not having to stop to rest nearly as much.  We noticed Sam trotting around the house instead of just walking (and not just trotting after food).  He could walk longer distances and was trotting a lot on his outings instead of just walking slow.  His stiffness seemed to improve quite a bit when transitioning from a resting position to movement.
  • 7 weeks out:  Sam’s walking has continued to improve and he has started running on his outings…. a lot.  Sam literally runs from one thing he wants to pee on to the next thing he wants to pee on.  The walks that Sam goes on (which he runs for a good portion of now) are considerably longer than the distances he has been able to walk for a very, very long time.  Sam still has stiffness when he gets up from resting but nothing like it was before.  Most of the time he hops up from laying down and within a very short period of time he is at his normal gait. (A normal gait for Sam is still quite akward but it works for him).  We have been able to reduce Sam’s pain meds and he is still feeling good.  Prior to the procedure Sam was unable to do the traditional “dog stretch” –  where the dog stretches out his front legs and lifts his backend up in the air.   Now Sam does the “dog stretch” quite often.  Sam has always been a happy dog despite his health issues. Lately though he is the happiest we have seen him in a very long time.

We are not trying to convince anyone that they should do a stem cell procedure on a pet.  When we are making tough decisions for our pet’s health one of the first things we do is start reading up on what other’s pet parents have experienced.  Stem cell procedures for dogs are still very, very new.  We don’t know how long we will continue to see improvements in Sam’s mobility and comfort level nor how long this will last.   We did have extra stem cells banked for Sam so we can do the procedure again in the future if we need to.

If you are interested in reading more on stem cell procedures in animals here are some links to informative materials that I read to learn more about the treatment;

St. Louis Vet on Stem Cells

Stem Cell testimonies (with before and after videos) by patients in Hawaii

Article in Tulsa Pet Magazine that explains the what and why of stem cells

Article from the American Veterinary Medical Association on stem cells in theory and practice

Stem Cell article in BARK magazine

USA Today article on canine stem cell therapy

Arthritis Foundation Article on Stem Cells in pets

Vet Stem Website  (this site is full of information, just keep in mind stem cells are their business)

If you didn’t catch my first post on Sam’s stem cells click here: Sam’s Stem Cells.  I will continue to post on his progress in the future.

If you are anything like us there is little you won’t do for your pets but making the big decisions for them can be so hard.  I hope you find this post helpful.

If you like pet news, rescue advocacy, pet art and fun crafts for you and your pet consider following my blog.  I post 1-3 times per week on my blog and daily on my Facebook and Pinterest page.  Check out my Art Gallery, Parent Resources and Free Tutorials for all sorts of great pet art and ideas.  Please keep me in mind when you are shopping for Pet Rescue Art and Pet Adoption Cards and Pet Sympathy Cards….I sell my items at my Rescue Mama ETSY shop. I donate a portion of all of my sales to pet rescue organizations.

Update: July 10, 2015.  We are now nearly one year from Sam’s Stem Cell procedure.  Sam continues to do very well.  He goes on nice walks everyday, he still runs (in his own goofy sort of way) and he can still jump on furniture and in to his pool.  Sam’s quality of life continues to be very high.  His right elbow is his most difficult joint.  We did bank Sam’s Stem Cells after his first procedure.  We are currently contemplating another injection in to his right elbow.

Rescue On!

Nancy (and Sam)

20140918_101745

Sam and Sparky snoozin’ in the office.

8 Comments »

  1. Unbelievable ! Is that the same Sam that barely waddled over to our house for a treat?? Truly it is a miracle! Makes me cry with delight. 😍 Kathy

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  2. Congratulations! We are having the procedure done on our Landseer next week. She is 4 years old and has a partially torn ACL and arthritis. We have taken her to a few places to get different opinions. We did not want to do the ACL (tplo) surgery due to its severity and long recovery time. Plus it would not make a difference with her arthritis. We are thrilled to address both ACL issue and arthritis with the injections. So excited for her to have a fresh start. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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