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Shih Tzu puppy shows improvement with stem cell therapy


Ten-month old Oliver was treated for arthritis in his elbows with the treatment in conjunction with surgery

After noticing Oliver, a 10-month-old Shih Tzu, was limping, his family decided that it was time to take him to his veterinarian, Kimberly Carlson, DVM, DACVS, from Lenity Vet Specialists and Emergency Care in San Mateo, California. Carlson determined Oliver was suffering from elbow dysplasia and arthritis in both is front legs and recommended surgical repair in conjunction with VetStem Cell Therapy.

According to an organizational release,1 Carslon has been providing VetStem Cell Therapy to patients since 2007 and has treated nearly 300 patients with stem cells. In Oliver’s case, stem cell therapy can reduce pain and lameness and delay the progression and reduce the severity of his arthritis.

Oliver, a Shih Tzu from California (Image courtesy of VetStem)

Oliver, a Shih Tzu from California (Image courtesy of VetStem)

Once in surgery, Carlson collected fat tissue from his abdomen that was then aseptically packaged and sent to the VetStem laboratory in Poway, California. The technicians at the laboratory then processed the fat in order to extract and concentrate the stem and regenerative cells within. Those cells were divided into doses and 3 injectable doses were sent back to Carlson to use for Oliver’s treatment.

Forty-eight hours after the first fat collection procedure, one dose was administered to Oliver into each elbow and one intravenous dose. Besides the 3 doses shipped to Carlson, multiple doses were also put into cryopreservation. This can help Oliver in the future if he needs more treatment because he will never have arthritis-free elbows. They will remain available to Oliver for the rest of his life.

In a study published in Veterinary Therapeutics, 4 companion animal regional referral veterinary practices in the United States recruited 14 outpatients’ dogs suffering from chronic osteoarthritis (OA). Each of the selected dogs had a history of fragmented coronoid process with surgical removal and/or osteochondritis dissecans.2

The investigators consisted of multiple diplomates from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, one diplomate from the American Association of Pain Management, and 1 veterinarian certified in acupuncture. At the completion of the study,2 it was discovered that stem cells can reduce pain and lameness in canines suffering from chronic osteoarthritis in the elbow for an extended period of time.

Oliver's owners shared that he had a good response to the treatment plan. “Now at nearly 1 and one-half years old, all his pain is gone, and he runs, fetches and plays with all-size dog friends. He is so happy and gets to enjoy his young dog life now pain-free! We are so glad we went with the doctor's recommendation. To see Oliver go from a slow, painful gait, to a vibrant energetic puppy is a wonderful gift!” expressed his owner.


  1. Shih Tzu Puppy Plays Again After Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. News release. VetStem. September 12, 2023. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://vetstem.com/pr_detail.php/290
  2. Black LL, Gaynor J, Adams C, et al. Effect of intraarticular injection of autologous adipose-derived mesenchymal stem and regenerative cells on clinical signs of chronic osteoarthritis of the elbow joint in dogs. Vet Ther. 2008;9(3):192-200.
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