The RVC has a long-established record with stem cell therapy, being one of the first to make this treatment available to horses. We can now offer these cutting-edge therapies for dogs.

Stem cells are naturally present in the body, where they are necessary for maintaining tissues and organs in a healthy state and for regeneration after injury. Because of these unique properties, stem cells are increasingly used as an innovative biological therapy for many diseases. By injecting stem cells into injured tendons, we can aid the healing process and reduce the formation of scar tissue, which reduces the chances of re-injury. Injecting stem cells into joints can also lead to improvements in pain and mobility which can last for many months. The cells we prepare are used to treat dogs either at the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, RVC or at external small animal practices.

Canine Stem Cell Therapies - what, when, where, who and why?

Watch a presentation by Dr Debbie Guest, Senior Research Fellow at the RVC.

Stem cell applications for dogs

Stem cells therapy is currently being offered for the following conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis (arthritis), in particular the knee (stifle), elbow, shoulder, carpus (wrist), tarsus (ankle) and hip joint.
  • Selected tendon injuries such as supraspinatus tendinopathy (shoulder tendon problems), Achilles tendon.
  • Some cartilage joint diseases such as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) and elbow dysplasia.

Canine stem cell therapy process

Most of the canine mesenchymal stem cells that we prepare are from adipose (fat) tissue. The process involves a few simple steps:

Adipose tissue samples are obtained from the dog by a qualified veterinarian. The sample is then sent to our Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) authorised stem cell laboratory at the RVC from which a stem-cell rich fraction is prepared. These stem cells are grown until sufficient numbers for treatment are achieved. The number of cells required depends on the size and type of injury, but typically the stem cells are ready to be injected into the injured tissue in around 7-10 days.

Why choose the RVC for canine stem cell services?

Pioneers of regenerative medicine

The RVC has been pioneering research and development of stem cell treatments for over 15 years. The knowledge we have gained from a proven successful track record in stem cell applications in horses has now been applied to canine clients for joint, tendon and ligament injuries. The combined expertise of clinical and scientific experts at the RVC means that we have substantial knowledge in the field of regenerative medicine. In addition, we have access to internationally renowned state-of-the-art facilities including our on-site Queen Mother Hospital for Animals and laboratories, where we continue to develop new cell therapy treatments. 

As part of our role as a leading University referral centre, we are currently conducting a clinical trial into stem cell treatment for elbow arthritis to help build the evidence for these pioneering treatments. Please contact us if you are interested in being involved.

Exceptional Quality Standards

To ensure that the stem cells that we prepare are of the highest quality, we apply quality control measures that monitor the product for sterility and for markers of stem cells. The RVC Stem Cell Centre is one of only a handful of UK centres licenced by the VMD for the preparation of equine stem cells. It is not currently a legal requirement for dog stem cells in the UK to be made to VMD standards, but adhering to these standards ensure the cells are safe and perform as expected.

Further Information


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