A STEM cell treatment which can give suffering animals a new lease on life has reached Bunbury pet owners.
The first stem cell procedure in regional WA was performed at Australind Vet Clinic last Wednesday.
An Australind family had been devastated to watch their 12-year-old dog Otis suffer from painful arthritis.
The Swedish vallhund has the disease in his hips, elbows, back and knees and has been medicated with painkillers for years.
Clinic veterinarian Dr Rob Hill said the drugs were not working as well as they used to and the family was upset their beloved dog was in pain.
“It has been a long and costly process and there were also health implications due to his body being bombarded with medications,” Dr Hill said.
But Otis was given hope for the future when the Australind Vet Clinic decided to introduce stem cell technology.
The procedure is about two years old and before last week had only reached WA’s metropolitan areas.
“We are hopeful that even if we can just get a reduction in his pain, it will be worth it – every step is painful for Otis right now and these people really love their dog,” Dr Hill said.
Dr Hill said when dogs were in as much pain as Otis sometimes euthanasia had been the only option, but stem cell treatment could give pets another chance.
As well as arthritis, the stem cell procedure can treat spinal injury, chronic renal failure in cats and heal wounds.
It can also divide and turn into fat, nerve, bone, muscle and cartilage but the extent of its powers is unknown.
Medivet stem cell technician Andrew Walker flew from Melbourne to WA for the day to train the team at the Australind clinic.
Mr Walker said many vets were still unsure about the new technology, but it would not be long before it took off across the South West.
“I have seen a dog that was literally dragging his hindquarters behind him because he was in so much pain and after treatment he was walking perfectly – it doesn’t mean a crippled dog will be able to run, but to allow them to walk without pain is a huge achievement,” he said.