A rescue dog has become one of the first dogs in the UK to benefit from stem cell therapy for arthritis.

Meg, an eight-year-old Labrador cross from Retford in Nottinghamshire, has chronic arthritis in her front elbow joints.

The pain meant she was extremely reluctant to exercise or play.

Traditional treatment with anti-inflammatories failed to improve her condition and Meg’s owner Helen Dakin despaired of finding an effective remedy.

She was then referred to Beechwood Veterinary Hospital in Doncaster, where clinical director Mark Straw took CT scans of Meg’s arthritic joints and after considerable investigation of her condition, recommended the stem cell therapy.

Mrs Dakin said: “Mark worked miracles with Meg. By the end of the second week she was showing real improvement and although she still limps slightly she is keen to go for a walk now, which signifies a huge reduction in the pain.”

Stem cell therapy involves harvesting cells from the patient by way of extracting fat from under the skin during a small surgical procedure. The sample is then transported to Veterinary Tissue Bank, where the stem cells are extracted and expanded in cell culture and then returned for injection by the veterinary surgeon into the patient’s injured tissue or joint.

Mr Straw said in Meg’s case, the cells used were autogenous (from the patient) and so there was no risk of rejection.

“We were fast running out of options to give Meg back her mobility and although stem cell therapy isn’t a cure for arthritis it can alleviate the pain in some cases,” he said.

Meg first went to have her stem cells harvested. A couple of weeks later and Meg’s stem cells had multiplied enough to have them re-injected into both her elbow joints. The treatment costs were covered by pet insurance.

Mrs Dakin said: “It was a straightforward procedure and she only had to stay in hospital for a couple of hours, then she was able to return home.”

Meg then had to be kept quiet for 10 days to let the stem cells adhere to the joint.

Veterinary Tissue Bank is Europe’s first tissue bank for vets. It processes tissues such as bone, tendon and ligament that can be transplanted into patients.

The tissue bank is particularly keen to boost the numbers of cat donors as there is a severe shortage of feline tissue. If you would like more information visit www.vtbank.org or email info@vtbank.org

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