TALLASSEE, AL (WSFA) - Stem cells have been used in advanced medical treatment of diseases and other conditions for years, but now stem cell therapy is being used to treat pets at a Tallassee veterinary hospital.
Katie is one of those patients. Even though she's just 5 years old, she has the joints of a 12-year-old which is why she's going through stem cell therapy.
"We're using the pet's own adult stem cells and we're giving them back to the pet in such a way as to elicit healing, promote healing, decrease pain, decrease inflammation, it actually has been shown to rebuild some cartilage in damaged joints," said Dr. Michelle Mitchell with Mitchell Veterinary Hospital.
First, Mitchell collects plasma from Katie. Then, Katie is sedated while the doctor performs surgery to collect fat from her abdomen.
That takes just 30 minutes, but it takes about four hours to process stem cells from the fatty tissue, mix them with the plasma and use it for treatment.
"We're going to inject it back into her hips, her knees, her shoulders and any site of injury," Mitchell said.
Mitchell says the entire process has a very low risk, but there are many benefits.
"I have not seen a case yet where there's not been some degree of improvement in comfort, in mobility, in their overall demeanor and in their health," Mitchell said. "We've been just absolutely amazed at the recovery. Some of the dogs are off all pain medicine."
And being off that medicine makes the therapy not just good for your pet but also good for your wallet.