New Study Is Looking to Help Dogs With Arthritis Using Stem Cells


A nationwide stem cell study is looking to help dogs with arthritis live a more comfortable life.

Occurring in 13 states, researchers will be studying the effects of stem cells in dogs to see if the process can produce more cartilage and joint fluid in the animals.

The study will take place over a six-month period in which there will be two groups: dogs injected with stem cells and a placebo group. During the timeframe, owners must keep a diary and have a check-up one month, three months and six months after the injection. All vet costs incurred pertaining to the study will be covered. After complete, owners will receive $400. Also, all dogs that were part of the placebo group will receive the stem cell injection, meaning all dogs will have the opportunity to see if this technique works for their arthritis.

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“We are at a point where we have added supplements and expensive medications over the course of several years and as his arthritis worsens, we’ve maxed out medication options, says Lynsey Rossi of Minnesota, a participant in the study with her 14-year-old dog Max. “We have nowhere else to turn at this point. This trial is a prayer answered for us to be able to try something else to help him.”

Lynsey Rossi's dog Max and her son. Image credit: Lynsey Rossi

Lynsey Rossi’s dog Max and her son. Image credit: Lynsey Rossi

Stem cells are specialized cells living in the body that can take in different forms to help the body heal. Younger people and animals have more than older one, which is why they can recover from injuries and illnesses faster.

And while there is controversy surrounding the use of stem cells (due to the development and destruction of human embryos), the process used in this study will not raise any issues.

Max. Image credit: Lynsey Rossi

Max. Image credit: Lynsey Rossi

Related: Owners Share the Special Bond They Have With Their Senior Dogs in New Book

Researchers will be using the stem cells from umbilical cords of puppies delivered C-section. The tissue would normally be throw away, but instead will be used to extract stem cells to use for the study. By going down this route, no ethical concerns arise (e.g. harvesting embryos, getting tissue from research animals, or killing animals just for their stem cells).

To qualify, dogs must be over the age of one and have “chronic lameness” attributed to arthritis, but otherwise in good health. Pups also can not be pregnant, have cancer or received stem cells in the past. While there has not been negative effects in the pilot studies, this study’s purpose is to measure safety and efficiency. There are 13 states that will have the stem cell trial clinic locations: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

For people like Rossi, the study will hopefully provide another outlet for arthritis.

“Not only do we hope Max’s quality of life can be improved by this but it is a great feeling to see more being done to help all dogs and owners dealing with these sad circumstances,” she says.  

Related: 6 Tips on How to Care for Your Senior Dog

If interested in participating, head over to the Animal Cell Therapies website to see if you qualify.

By Andrea Huspeni

Andrea Huspeni is the founder and CEO of This Dog's Life. Her mission it to help dogs live a happier, healthier and longer life. When she isn't working, she spends time with her two dogs, Lola and Milo. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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