Research At CSU Suggests Stem Cell Therapy Beneficial To Cats In Chronic Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney failure, commonly known among veterinarians as chronic renal failure, is the number one cause of death in cats.   It is generally accepted that if a cat lives long enough, it is not a question of if he will develop kidney failure, but a question of when.   Many cats are genetically predisposed to chronic renal failure and will develop the disease before 10 years of age.

Chronic renal failure is a degenerative disease where there is progressive loss of functional kidney tissue.  As functional kidney tissue turns to scar tissue, the kidneys progressively experience a gradual reduction in key functions, including detoxification, concentrating urine, and regulating red blood cell production.

In the past, our only means of diagnosing chronic renal failure in cats was detection in general blood work with proportional elevations of two key kidney values in combination with unusually dilute urine seen on urinalysis.  By the time these circumstances manifested, however, 75% loss of functional tissue had already been lost.

With the advent of early screening with a blood test called SDMA and a change in interpretation of the key kidney value called creatinine (previously 2.1 was considered elevated, whereas now the American Feline Renal Society recognizes 1.6 or higher an indicator of renal disease), we are able to detect chronic renal failure well before there is substantial loss of functional tissue.

This has been very important for cats with chronic renal disease, where dietary modifications with prescription renal diets that limit phosphorous, sodium, and metabolic proteinaceous waste could be implemented to slow the degeneration and maintain quality of life.  While these dietary measures have proven invaluable for cats in active chronic renal failure, their role in slowing progression of early disease remains questionable.

While the renal diets are still an accepted strategy for slowing the progression of early chronic renal failure, new research at Colorado State University headed by Dr. Jessica Quimby suggests that stem cell therapy could play a key role in stabilizing degenerative chronic renal failure in cats.  Her research early on, however, indicates that once the functional tissue is gone, stem cell therapy will not restore the tissue and is not as powerful in turning back the clock on kidney health.  She states that her research shows the most significant benefit to stem cell therapy is with cats that are screened early and treated early to stabilize and halt the loss of kidney tissue before reaching the 75% loss threshold.

Still, the conclusions of Dr. Quimby’s research are still premature and she observes that stem cell therapy may still be quite helpful even for cats with more advanced stages of chronic renal disease.  She states, “Up until now, we’ve focused on cats with early stages of the disease with the hope of slowing disease progression.  We noticed that a few cats with worse stages in those studies were actually doing really well. We can’t ignore the possibility that stem cells could help those cats, too.”

With cutting edge technology from Tithon Animal Services that enables us to now harvest stem cells from peripheral via simple blood draw (the Colorado State study is using stem cells derived from fat which requires a minor surgical procedure for harvest) that my clinic is now utilizing there is a  subsequent dramatic reduction in cost and invasiveness for treatment.  With simple blood draw followed by simple IV infusion of the stem cells once they are processed (typically in 1-2 business days) there is really little reason not to attempt stem cell therapy in cats in early to advanced stages of chronic renal failure.

The biggest takeaway from this article with regard to stem cell therapy and chronic renal failure in cats is early screening of disease is key in optimizing treatment success.  Thus, by 8 years of age, every cat should be having at least once yearly blood and urinalysis screening for detection of disease and early intervention.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Primary source for this article: https://source.colostate.edu/veterinarians-pursue-stem-cell-therapy-cats-severe-kidney-disease/

Pet Owners Should Not Take “Natural” To The Point Of Absurd

I can appreciate pet owners who wish to feed their pets organic and natural food, pursue natural, side effect free alternative treatment options, and avoid chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides.  I try to do that for myself and my human and furry family as much as it is feasible.  As an integrative practitioner of veterinary medicine, I often attract these kinds of pet owners and enjoy a great working relationship with them most of the time.  There are occasions, however, when I deal with such naturally minded pet owners that draw a lines in the sand that defy common sense and venture into the realm of the absurd.

In a recent case of an 8 year old female boxer, I determined on a routine yearly visit had stage 3 out of 4 periodontal disease.  The owners were aware of the periodontal disease with their previous veterinarian having made dental recommendations as well, but until seeing me (they had just moved here from another state), the previous veterinarian had told them of the condition of the teeth but did not actually show them (so they told me, anyway).

She was a very good patient, so I was easily able to lift the lips and show the owners how decayed her teeth were with severe gum recession in many spots, tooth root exposure, and even pus along some of the gum margins.  I strongly recommended a professional dental cleaning and what would likely amount to several extractions for teeth beyond repair.

The owners were up front about their preference for natural treatment but to their credit, understood that no amount of enzyme/grapefruit seed extract dental sprays would fix these teeth.  We rran pre-anesthetic blood work which revealed that at an unusually young age, the boxer has significant kidney elevations that indicated chronic degenerative kidney disease.  I still recommend the dental because there is a direct correlation between chronic periodontal disease and acceleration of kidney failure in dogs and cats.  I would take the necessary precautions with my anesthesia protocol to maximize the patient’s safety.

The patient ultimately came through nicely through anesthesia, dental cleaning and oral surgery to removed several teeth.  At discharge, I discussed with the owners that I will circle back with them at the 2 week post-operative re-check to discuss dietary management as the primary means to manage chronic kidney failure in dogs.  The owner said that she would be back for the re-check, but the dietary discussion would not be necessary.  I was not quite sure at the time what the owner meant, but she quickly left and I got distracted with more discharges and forgot about her statement.

At re-check, I confirmed to the owner that all of the surgical sites had healed well and the gum infection had completely cleared.  I then turned the discussion to my recommendation of a prescription renal diet, as these diets are comprised of highly bioavailable protein sources (that are in turnassociated with minimal protein metabolic waste), restricted in sodium and phosphorus, and are fortified with antioxidants to combat toxins that accumulate in the body as a consequence of kidney failure.  All of these aspects of prescription diets for patients in kidney failure combat high blood pressure, reduce the work-load of the kidneys, and produce minimal toxins as metabolic waste that help to maintain quality of life and body condition.

The owner’s demeanor suddenly changed and she became defensive and reminded me that she had already told me that a discussion about diet was not necessary.  She went on to tell me that she and her husband are passionate about feeding raw meat and vegetables to their dogs and that they did not intend to vary from that.  She said that she could not justify intoxicating her dog with processed food and preservatives no matter the claims of the diet.

During circumstances like these, I generally have to take a moment to swallow, take a deep breath, allow my blood pressure to stabilize and collect myself; which I did.  I then patiently explained to her that I respect her passion for all things natural, but in this case, a prescription diet does have preservatives and is processed (since it is engineered to have exactly what a kidney failure dog needs to maintain quality of life and facilitate longevity), but the proteinaceous waste, sodium, and phosphorous levels her raw diet provided the dog would be far more harmful in disease progression than any preservatives or processing.  I offered this owner statistical data that clearly proved the benefit of prescription kidney sparing diets in dogs.

Alas, it was all to no avail.  While she seemed to listen and I thought I may have made a dent, she simply told me no thank you, she and her husband  did not believe in feeding processed food and preservatives to their dogs and that they are fully prepared to take their chances.

This is when I had to resist the temptation to bang my head against the wall as a wonderful boxer that could have had many months, even years, added to her life by simply being fed a special diet, walked out the door to have her life shortened and her quality lessened over her owner’s sheer narrow mindedness and stubbornness.

Natural and alternative medicine minded pet owners frequently complain – often rightfully so – that many veterinarians are dismissive of discussing or looking into natural alternatives to feeding and therapy, and are close minded and  focused on only traditional western veterinary medicine.  Unfortunately, integrative veterinarians that are not close minded, sometimes encounter the flip side to that coin with occasional owners such as the subject of this post, that are to too entrenched in their natural dogma to be reasonable…and the pet at no fault of her own is the one who suffers needlessly.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.