Ipo is my younger, and usually non-problematic dog. At 8 she is a high energy happy dog who loves to run and swim.
About 5 months ago, she came home from the beach with my husband limping on her right back leg. Unlike other times when it was a simple reef cut or over-exertion, this limp was from pain in her knee. Since it persisted longer than a week, I brought her in to work with me and diagnosed her with a partial tear of her cranial cruciate ligament through x-rays. I decided to try and treat her conservatively with acupuncture, laser, and short controlled leash walks.Luckily, she improved, and her gait returned to normal.
Ipo, like many dogs, needs to exercise. If she were human, she would be an Ironman triathlete. So, she returned to her beach excursions, several times with no problems.
After one Sunday afternoon, she came back limping on her left hind leg. My stomach sank a little as I palpated her joints and put her through range of motion exercises. It was now her left knee.
I knew my options were limited. Orthopedic surgery and an implant would give her the best long term prognosis for a return to complete mobility. It is the only way to solve the mechanical issue that develops since the ligaments are no longer stabilizing the joint correctly. The reason why I did not opt for this were three.
After a major orthopedic surgery, the patient needs to be confined for 6 weeks in a crate or enclosure. Exercise is slowly increased from that point on. Since I work 12 hour days minimally, and lifting her in and out of the car to go to Surf Paws with me would be dangerous, this would be very difficult.
Ipo has 2 knees involved which is the next challenging issue. When you fix 1, the pressure on the other leg is increased as they should not put weight on the surgical leg for at least a week. Finally, since her ligament was partially torn, I wanted to try something different and see how she healed before putting her through an orthopedic procedure.
This is where stem cell therapy came into the picture for me. I have always been intrigued by the endless possibilities stem cell therapy offers the medical world. The research and cases for orthopedic problems similar to Ipo’s yield many positive results. Even race horses are regularly undergoing the procedure with great success.
Since the company Medivet has perfected the purification of stem cells from fat tissue, and everything can be done the same day, I truly felt it was the best option for my dog. The surgery to collect the fat was minimally invasive as it is taken from an area behind the shoulder blade. When the joint injections were given of the purified stem cells, I did not even have to sedate my very hyper girl. She didn’t even feel the small needle as it was introduced into her knee.
So far, she is doing well and I will continue to document her case and post her progress.
Dr Cristina Miliaresis (aka Dr. M)