Regenerative medicine is a medical trend continuing to make huge advancements in the veterinary world. While stem cell therapy is still out of reach for many pet owners due to its high cost, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy—also a cutting-edge option—is available at a fraction of the cost. Traditionally, PRP therapy has only been used in human and equine medicine, but this innovative option is now spreading into the companion animal sector, and we offer it at UVH.
What is PRP therapy?
When a human or animal is injured, certain components of the blood (including platelets) rush to the scene and begin damage control. Platelets release their growth factors, allowing the body to build the substances necessary for healing. With a higher concentration of platelets and their growth factors, the body receives a boost in the healing process. When given in a concentrated dose, the platelet-rich plasma cells work to:
- Promote blood flow
- Reduce inflammation
- Speed the healing process
- Reduce recovery time
Injecting PRP directly into the affected area, or giving it intravenously if the injury is too widespread or difficult to reach, allows the body to heal more quickly.
Is PRP therapy right for your pet?
If your pet has ever been injured, you likely wanted to speed the healing process and provide pain relief. Fortunately, as more research is accomplished on regenerative medicine for small animals, we can use therapies like PRP to achieve these goals.
When determining if PRP therapy is appropriate for your pet, we’ll consider:
- Is your pet too old to safely undergo and recover from orthopedic surgery?
- Will PRP injections help promote healing with this surgical procedure?
- Is your pet’s injury unable to be surgically corrected?
For ideal candidates, PRP therapy will help treat:
- Tendon injuries
- Ligament injuries
- Muscle Tears
- Elbow dysplasia
- Hip dysplasia
- Spay/neuter incisions
- Dental disease
- Corneal ulcers
- Non-infected skin wounds and dermal burns
As the study of regenerative medicine escalates, this list will continue to grow.
How does PRP therapy work?
There are five steps to PRP therapy:
- A blood sample is drawn from your pet.
- This blood sample is spun down in a special centrifuge to separate the different components. Whole blood consists of:
- Plasma (the liquid portion) and platelets
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
- Once the sample has been separated, the plasma component will contain a much greater concentration (3-8 times higher) of platelets than a normal blood sample.
- The platelets within the plasma are “activated” by stimulating them to release their growth factors. These growth factors help to speed up the healing process.
- The platelet-rich plasma is then injected into your pet, either intravenously or directly into the injured joint.
Conducted during an outpatient visit, this entire process takes only about 45 minutes to complete. Joint injections can be painful, and some pets can become wiggly while at the hospital, so sedation is required to keep your pet calm and comfortable. After the injection, your pet will be able to go home.
How should you care for your pet after PRP therapy?
After your pet receives PRP therapy, keep in mind:
- Limping and soreness are normal for up to one week after an injection. For the 20+ proteins in PRP to work, the plasma cells must elicit an inflammatory response, possibly causing soreness in your pet.
- Your pet’s activity should be restricted to mild for the first four weeks (such as 10-minute leash walks). We recommend slow, controlled movements during this period (avoid fetching, running, agility, or daycare). After that, she can be as active as she wants.
- Injections can be repeated as often as every two weeks, but most pets come in every 6 to 12 months for a “refresh.”
- Since PRP is made from your pet’s own blood, there is no reason for the body to reject it. This is a safe therapy and procedure, and there should not be any side effects other than short-term limping or soreness.
PRP therapy is not a magical cure-all, but about 80 percent of pets show an improvement within 10 days. Animals with older injuries or chronic diseases, like arthritis, may need multiple treatments before a difference can be noticed. Keep a detailed record of the supplements, medications, and treatments that work best for your pet to help your veterinarian provide optimal care.
Interested in learning more about this exciting new treatment option? Call us at 318-797-5522.