Treatments like stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma therapy once were cost-prohibitive for the average pet owner, but now, because of advances in cell processing and methods of stem cell harvest and storage in younger animals at the time of spay/neuter, treatments are much more feasible. The safety of these methods is very high, because we use information stored in the pet’s own cells to trigger healing and tissue regeneration.

PRP (platelet-rich plasma) is a treatment that can offer great benefits to pets suffering from a variety of conditions, including joint and muscle injuries. Stem cell therapy is another treatment that is used in combination with PRP for more effective and long-term treatment of degenerative diseases.

In my clinics, PRP treatments are performed frequently and yield excellent results for dogs and cats, most often with one to two joint injuries, including ligament injuries to knee or stifle. The treatment has shown effectiveness in reducing pain, arthritis formation, and improving patients’ joint stability, bringing about healing and full return of function. Most patients who receive PRP with Prolotherapy do not require surgical stabilization of injured joints.

Stem cell with PRP therapy is done for more extensive and advanced degenerative conditions, also yielding great results for pets. When pets are suffering with arthritis in numerous joints, the spinal column or experiencing degenerative spinal cord disorders, pets and owners can see stabilization and improvement over three to four months. Owners often report additional benefits involving the immune system, chronic Lyme disease, and allergies.

What exactly are stem cells and PRP?

Stem cells are cells from which all cells begin, which are able to become any tissue in the body. They are plentiful in developing fetuses of all mammals. They have the ability to reproduce repeatedly and can help regenerate injured tissues and bring about health, renewal and repair in the adult body. When an animal or human body is developing, prior to birth, stem cells are plentiful, but as we age, they diminish in numbers.

Stem cells have some characteristics that make them helpful in regenerative medicine, including the ability to self-renew, and to differentiate (turn themselves into the type of cells that are needed for healing injured or damaged tissues). They can be found in the adult body in many different tissues, including bone marrow and fat cells.

In veterinary medicine, multiple companies have advocated and produced methods of extracting stem cells from pets’ fat cells. The early unique and patented systems of stem cell harvest/activation, which were originally touted as effective in the early years of providing therapy, did not yield highly consistent and effective results in the treatment of aging disease. Most patients treated with stem cells were those suffering from degenerative conditions, such as arthritis and spinal degenerative conditions.

When pets and humans age, the number of active stem cells diminishes, so newer methods have been developed in veterinary medicine that use the pet’s own tissues, avoid the use of bone marrow (harvesting bone marrow is painful for the pet), and are minimally invasive. When an older pet has degenerative processes going on in multiple joints, the pet’s fat cells can be extracted during a simple surgical procedure. Some of the cells are prepared for injection later the same day, while some are sent into storage or banking for future use. In my office, processing with equipment in-house produces stem cells within four hours of being extracted. They are activated for injection on the same day into injured tissues, including joints.

During the treatment process, we combine stem cells with factors extracted from the blood’s platelets, which are isolated in a separate, sterile process. The injection also involves adding stem cells and PRP to an intravenous infusion, so the entire body can be positively impacted. Clients often report being able to take pets off pain and allergy medications, after a successful stem-cell treatment.

There are patients who should not receive their own stem cells. These include cancer patients. When pets have cancer cells being produced in their bodies, extracting stem cells for infusion and injection can actually accelerate the spread of neoplasia. To prevent this, older pets are carefully screened with cancer risk assessment testing, including extensive blood work, prior to scheduling the procedure.

Owners of younger pets can improve their pets’ stem cell yield by having their pets’ stem cells collected when the pet is spayed or neutered and then take advantage of stem cell banking or storage. The great advantage we have seen is that stem cell harvests can yield much higher numbers of treatments than harvests produce when a pet is 8 to 15 years old. Additionally, in the older pet, the stem-cell collection process can be skipped when the cells are needed. We would simply order the cells to be delivered for the date of treatment, and a pet would only need a light sedative for injection into affected spinal or joint areas.

To learn more about stem cell and PRP treatments as effective therapies and alternatives to surgeries, visit