EAST NORWICH, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Do you have a dog or cat that has trouble walking? Some veterinarians believe they’ve found a cure that doesn’t involve a bunch of painkillers.
Luger is a four-year-old Rottweiler who cries in pain every time he gets up. He’s been on anti-inflammatory drugs for the past three years.
Luger’s vet said a genetic defect is to blame, reports CBS 2’s Magee Hickey.
“He has no neck to his femur, he has all extra bone formation, and his socket is very flat,” Dr. Ellen Leonhardt said. “He has extremely severe hip dysplasia – that’s about as bad as it gets.”
Luger was sedated for what’s believed to be the first ever stem cell procedure on a dog in New York, at Animal General of East Norwich.
First, Dr. Leonhardt extracted 20 grams of fat from the Rottweiler’s shoulder. The fat contains stem cells, which may be able to repair Luger’s defective hips once they are mixed with Luger’s blood platelets. The mixture is shaken up in a stem cell cocktail in a specially designed centrifuge known as a MediVet.
“We are activating them with a little LED laser, and then we put them back into the dog. It’s almost like turbo-charging these stem cells, which helps them to proliferate and heal,” Dr. Mike Hutchinson, a veterinarian who specializes in stem cells, said.
The repair cells were then injected into each of Luger’s hips, and also into his veins. The vets say this procedure can be used on dogs, cats, horses, or any animal who is suffering from arthritis, lameness or a restricted range of motion.
Luger will be up and moving a few hours after the procedure, though the pain-relieving effect on his hips won’t be felt for about a week.
“It saves him from having hip replacement surgery,” Dr. Leonhardt said. “Our goal is to do this minor procedure and save him from the big one.”
“He’s a very active dog, and getting him off the meds and having him pain-free for the next year or two will be wonderful,” Luger’s owner, Rosanne Mamo, said. “I’m just excited for him, because he deserves better.”
Luger’s owners are hoping he’ll soon be well enough to train for his future job, as a therapy dog visiting nursing homes.
The stem cell procedure costs $1,800, and the operation is sometimes covered by pet insurance.