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New Zealand dog owners will soon be able to access breakthrough stem cell therapy for their pets suffering from degenerative joint disease.
Pet Doctors, New Zealand's biggest companion animal veterinary group, has announced an agreement to treat dogs with stem cell technology. New Zealand will be only the third country in the world to offer this type of therapy for dogs, along with Australia and the United States.
Pet Doctors group chief executive Steve Merchant said the treatment offered an alternative for thousands of dogs suffering from degenerative joint disease.
"Many pet-owners have experienced the heartache of seeing a previously active dog deteriorate in mobility - for simple things like getting into the car, going for walks, or having a play at the beach.
"Often the mind is willing but the body is not," said Dr Merchant.
"By using the dog's own fat cells and genetic material to regenerate their joint, they can lead healthier and more active lives without drugs."
The therapy uses advanced technology and the dog's own natural regeneration system to treat painful arthritic joints. It is a one-day procedure that involves implanting stem cells into affected joints.
Dr Merchant said the technology was very exciting and could soon be a routine procedure offered throughout the country.
"It is expensive and it's not for every dog but it will help in many cases. Dogs are living longer and owners are forming closer bonds to their animals so there will be a demand for this treatment."
Currently the therapy is being offered in Australia at the cost of around $6000. More than 200 dogs have been operated on in Australia so far, with excellent results. So far there have been three procedures carried out in New Zealand.
The majority of dogs showed a reduction in pain within 10 days, and have maintained an improvement 22 months after treatment.