When one of our beloved pets becomes ill or injured, we rely on the skilled and compassion care provided by veterinarians. Each day, veterinarians diagnose, treat, and immunize millions of animals across the nation. They also provide the spay and neuter services that are so essential in controlling the number of stray and feral animals living in streets and fields.
Advances in veterinary treatment are changing the way we approach illness and injury in pets. Here are a few of the breakthroughs that are transforming veterinary medicine today.
Stem Cell Therapy
Thanks to recent advances in veterinary medicine, healthy adult stem cells from an animal’s own body are now being used to treat disease. Termed autologous therapy, the technique harnesses the natural regenerative capabilities of our pets’ own bodies to help treat debilitating conditions such as osteoarthritis. Stem cell treatment also speeds bone healing shortens recovery time from orthopedic injuries to the tendons and ligaments.
Oral melanoma is the common form of oral cancer in dogs, and this type of cancer can be aggressive. Recent work has focused on the fact that malignant melanoma is an immunogenic disease—meaning that it is possible to stimulate the host’s own immune system to combat the disease. Using tyrosinase obtained from human DNA, the vaccine is used as a therapy (rather than a preventive) in dogs already diagnosed with oral melanoma. The vaccine has shown its best results when used in conjunction with surgical or radiation therapy.
Lasers have become a mainstay of minimally invasive surgery in humans—but did you know that laser therapy can also be used to stimulate cell growth, reduce pain, and promote tissue healing in pets? Referred to as cold laser treatment, the technique uses lasers to increase blood and lymphatic circulation to a localized area, flushing out toxins and inflammatory mediators such as free radicals. It also increases the natural endorphin response to provide pain relief. The treatment remains costly but shows encouraging signs for future development.
Eastern medicine is making an impression on veterinary, as well as human practice. Acupuncture—long used to treat humans—has more recently been used to treat animals for a number of conditions, including arthritis, traumatic nerve injury, feline asthma, gastrointestinal problems, and skin conditions such as lick granulomas and allergic dermatitis.
The increased popularity of DNA testing of human saliva samples has resulted in some remarkable revelations about our genetic and cultural history on earth. Now the same technology is being used to determine the breed genetic makeup of dogs. Saliva testing allows for quick and painless sampling and rapid laboratory analysis of saliva to determine your dog’s genetic blueprint. Affordably priced kits are available, both through your vet or over the counter.
Editor’s Note: To honor the important work that veterinarians do—and to highlight the value of preventive veterinary care such as vaccination—the World Veterinary Association has designated April 27th, 2019 as World Veterinary Day.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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