NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s nothing some people wouldn’t do for their pets, especially when they sense the animal’s in pain.
As CBS2’s Dana Tyler reports, some cutting edge treatments can help bring canine relief when your pooch needs it most.
“He looked like a really old, unhappy dog,” Madhu Garg said of Napolean, her 8-year-old French bulldog.
Napolean is playing like a puppy now, but that wasn’t the case two years ago.
“He limped for a whole year,” said Garg. “And he developed arthritis in his elbow.”
Rehabilitation and other therapies didn’t work. So Dr. Leilani Alvarez, director of integrative and rehabilitative medicine at New York’s Animal Medical Center, suggested stem cell therapy.
“It’s actually waking up the body to its own healing mechanisms to bring other cells to the area to help the tissue to heal,” she explained.
Stem cells were extracted from fat that came from Napolean’s own body, which required surgery. The cells were then injected directly into the area needing treatment.
Two years later, he still appears to be pain free.
Now, research is underway that may eliminate the need for surgery altogether for pet patients needing those stem cells.
Sawyer Howell and his German shepherd, Boone, have been buddies for nearly 10 years.
“He’s been all over – all over the country hiking with me,” he said.
But Boone has hip dysplasia and suffers from osteoarthritis.
“It’s been, you know, kind of sad watching him slow down,” said Howell.
As part of the new trial, Boone was spared a painful operation and treated with stem cells from puppy umbilical cords taken during routine cesarean sections.
“I really hope that with the study we’re able to see if it actually benefits,” veterinarian Dr. Analisa Schilling said.
It’s a large study looking at about 600 dogs nationally, and it’s double blind, so Howell doesn’t know if Boone got the stem cells or a placebo.
“He hasn’t gotten any worse,” he said.
Boone is being closely monitored and has his blood checked regularly to mark any progress.
“We have so many owners who come in and say, ‘I hate to see my dog in pain.’ It’s heartwarming that we can also give them another alternative,” study coordinator Angela Vogt said.
The question isn’t whether stem cells work. Research has shown they’re effective in treating conditions like arthritis.
But it’s unclear if the same effectiveness can be found in outside donors. That’s what the study hopes to find out.