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I have been offered treatment for my 12 year old arthritic dog. The treatment involves using stem cells from a sheep's plascenta.

The cost is significantly less than an option offered earier which involved harvesting my dogs stem cells.

Can anyone reccomend this procedure?


My dog has Stage 2 Kidney Disease and I am keen to do the best I can realistically do for him for whatever time he has left

Started him on Tramal yesterday in relative desperation.



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Disclaimer- not a vet, or an expert on stem cell research. What did your vet say?


The whole point of stem cells is that they can turn into any type of cell (so you want them to turn into something specific in the body), and they're your own cells so the body doesn't reject them. The difficulties are getting them to the right place and getting them to turn into the right type of tissue, rather than a tumor. These issues haven't really been solved yet for most diseases.


I don't see how sheep stem cells would do anything- they would be foreign cells and the body would attack them. If we could use stem cells from other species interchangeably there wouldn't be the controversy over stem cell research in the first place.


From what I've read there's some evidence that you can use them to regenerate bone or get stem cells to turn into cartilage for osteoarthritis- but that cartilage will sometimes harden and exacerbate the original problem. Because the joint is already diseased, stem cells may sometimes form growths in and around this joint that may make things worse. At the moment it's pre-clinical (i.e. not shown to be effective enough to use normally outside studies). It may or may not work, it seems plausible that it will but we're not at the stage that we can say it does or doesn't.


"You can tell a lot about a purported stem cell therapy by how the “stem cells” are isolated and administered. If the physician doing the therapy can’t tell you what specific kind of stem cells he’s using, give a good technical description of how they are isolated and purified, show preclinical evidence demonstrating that they are, in fact, stem cells, and describe how he is going to target them to the correct area, then chances are good that the therapy is dubious." -David Gorski, oncologist.


This resource is for humans but has good info on this.


This article covers a number of different treatments for arthritis in animals, stem cells is no. 7 and has links to other articles on this topic, some reviewing the research in this area.

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As simba says (& provides links), a lot of this research is very much in its infancy.. Personally I would very cautious & dubious about claims that sheep stem cells would be helpful to a dog. ...sounds a bit like snake oil.


I would definitely be asking the person who is offering this treatment to show you conclusive evidence that this approach of using sheep cells has

-not been harmful to dogs and

-has had repeated success for treating dog arthritis.

..it may be worth adding this article http://thebark.com/content/should-you-treat-your-dog-stem-cell-therapy. to simba's reading list


Although I'm sure stem cell therapy will be an option for the future & I know you want to do the best for your dog, you also shoule be aware that there have been a few cases reported in human stem cell therapy where things have gone horribly wrong. (including at least 1 child developing cancer following 'stem cell' treatment).


If you are determined to go on this route, there will probably be less risk of side effects and perhaps more chance of success if you decide to use your dog's own cells (even if this is more expensive)


Take Care.

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I've been thinking about the validity of using sheep placental 'stem cell' therapy.

My guess is that the people advocating using them do not expect the cells themselves to incorporate & replace the arthritic joints (as is usually meant by stem cell replacement therapy). Instead, they are probably being used because it is hoped that they secrete 'factors' that may promote the dog's own joint cells to repair themselves.

However if this is the case, then each batch of 'stem cells' will almost inevitably be different because they are biological samples that will contain a mixed population of cells (it is almost impossible to get a pure population of one type of 'stem cell). They will also be different because they will be derived from different sheep.


This means that each batch will secrete different amounts of the 'factors'. In addition, although some of these factors may be beneficial for dogs, others will not work. It is also possible that some of these factors may be harmful to some dogs (these would be called 'side effects' :angry: )

If the companies promoting these cells are expecting them to treat arthritis, then it will depend very much on each individual dog plus how far the disease has progressed as to whether this form of therapy will work or not.

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Just remember that feedback from clients will not be reliable because arthritis is notoriously susceptible to the owner placebo effect. That and unhappy clients will often 'disappear' and not provide feedback- because they've gone somewhere else for a different treatment. If your dog isn't getting better you're not going to go and write up a testimonial saying that for the vet- and are they going to hand that on to new customers?


Any treatment, no matter how ineffective, can have positive feedback from clients because a certain number of people (or dogs) will have, or seem to have, an improvement. The way you know whether something works is by conducting some kind of systematic study.

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I am sorry that things did not work out better for the two of you.

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