Rare stem cell therapy for Montana animals

A relatively new stem cell therapy procedure for animals is available for pet owners here in Montana. Highlands Veterinary Hospital in Butte is one of only a few in the state certified to do the procedure.

Stella, a Bulldog and Rowdy, a Rottweiler are two dogs who underwent the stem cell surgery on Thursday which has never before been performed in Butte. Cindi Costin, owner of Highlands Veterinary Hospital said, "I think that the doctors here the three of us are probably excited about this as probably we've ever done because of the hopes that it gives to dogs and cats that have arthritis whether they are young or old."

The unprecedented stem cell therapy procedure removes fat tissue from the animal's body.  "With our proprietary procedure we're able to pull these cells out of the tissue. We're effectively getting rid of tissue that the body really doesn't need,” said Trey Smith, senior lab technician at Medivet Biologics.

Both dogs suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia.  Stella's owner Seana Ralph-Puderbaugh said there are days when the pain is so bad, one-and-a-half-year-old Stella can hardly move. She said, "When I exercise her I mean at night and even the next day she is unable to walk and there's mornings when she can't even get up." 

This particular stem cell science has only been around for five years. It works to heal the animal’s ailments by using their own repair cells.  Costin said, "It is a way to actually treat the disorder by allowing stem cells to become cartilage instead of just treating the symptom of pain and inflammation." The entire stem cell therapy procedure including tissue removal and injections is performed in one day so there is no waiting on lab work.

Ralph-Puderbaugh said it’s been tough watching her companion dog Stella suffer from pain. She said, “She’s my best friend so I’m hopeful that this will help her.”

You can contact Highlands Veterinary Hospital in Butte at (406) 299-3700 for more information about this if you think your dog or cat may be a candidate who would benefit from stem cell therapy.

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