Media release: Waikato dogs experience “miracle” arthritic recoveries

21 August 2014

Three years ago, local Australian Shepherd dog Shiloh, was diagnosed with a severe case of degenerative arthritis that left the then seven-year-old limping slowly towards her deathbed.

As time went on she became increasingly stiff, was soon no longer able to jump, could barely walk without pain, and eventually had to be carried outside to the toilet.

Remarkably the courageous canine is not only still alive today, she is walking and jumping without a trace of pain. Her physical improvement has been so outstanding that owner, Adele Holland, describes it as “nothing short of a miracle.”

In fact, this “miracle” recovery is something that dozens of arthritic Waikato dogs have experienced since the latest treatment for animal arthritic care was introduced to the region.

Local veterinarian, Dr Ivan Aleksic from CareVets in Hamilton, says Shiloh was the first dog to receive stem cell treatment when the practice introduced the therapy in March 2011.

And since Shiloh’s treatment, the practice has successfully administered stem cell treatment to more than 40 Waikato-based dogs with arthritis.

“From the time CareVets began administering the treatment, we have taken a keen interest in the dogs’ journey of improvement,” he said.

“Every single dog has experienced improvement, to some degree, from this purportedly degenerative joint disease. Thus, while I cannot guarantee a 100 per cent ‘miracle-success’ rate, I can confidently say three years later that stem cell treatment works extremely well,” he said.

Dr Aleksic describes stem cells as “the body’s own repair cells.” 

“They have the ability to divide and differentiate into many different types of cells based on where they are needed throughout the body. 

They can divide and turn into tissues such as skin, fat, muscle, bone, cartilage, and nerve to name a few,” Dr Aleksic said. “So, essentially, with stem cell treatment, we take a dog’s stem cells from its own fat and process the fat through special technology.

“The final outcome is one tube of purified stem cells, which we activate by treatment with special light, and inject into the joint that needs treatment.

“Following treatment, the dogs’ duration of action is vastly extended. It typically lends improvement for about three years, saving owners thousands of dollars on painkillers,” Dr Aleksic said.

Having witnessed Shiloh’s “miraculous” improvement, Mrs Holland is keen to spread the word about this new technology with regional pet owners.

“When you witness your pet, that you love so much, going through so much pain, you’ll do almost anything to improve his or her quality of life.

“Without stem cell treatment, Shiloh’s arthritis would have got progressively worse. Instead, she has a new lease on life. She jumps up on furniture, she enjoys going for walks, and she’s not crippled afterward.

“Many people don’t know about stem cell treatment and are surprised when we explain it. We have never regretted the decision. Technology saved the day,” Mrs Holland said.

Mrs Hart, whose Dalmatian Flick also had stem cell treatment in 2011, speaks similarly of the experience.

“Three years after Flick’s stem cell treatment he still needs no pain relief and is highly mobile. Flick used to collapse and cry from just the slightest movement, but now we are out walking two times a day for 20 minutes,” she said.

Although human embryonic stem cell extractions have been controversial with the general public, pet therapies are less controversial as they rely solely on the animals’ own cells.

“With full stem cell treatment, the stem cells come from your pet and are re-administered back into your pet,” Dr Aleksic said.

CareVets also administers another type of stem cell treatment consisting of a monthly stem-cell activator injection. If dogs respond well to this system the best value is to do the full stem cell harvest treatment.

Upon review of the consistent positive results following treatment, Dr Aleksic’s message to pet owners is clear.  

“There is a vast number of dogs out there in our region suffering through arthritis. The good news is that we have seen stem cell treatment work to prevent this.

“All 40-plus local dogs that received treatment have experienced remarkable improvement in their physical condition.

“Stem cell treatment is by far the best preventative medication I have seen in my history as a veterinarian. Pet owners should not consider this technology as a last resort,” he said.

Stem cell treatment for dogs costs approximately $2600.