According to a recent survey taken by the American Pet Products Association, there are an estimated 63.4 million dogs living with families in the United States. Ask these pet owners whether they consider their dog a member of the family, and it’s likely the answer would be a resounding “absolutely!” So it isn’t surprising that these owners are willing to spend close to two thousand dollars a year to provide their dog with food, medical care, treats and toys. (APPA 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey).
But those figures aren’t necessarily a realistic reflection of what costs might be incurred if the dog develops chronic issues such as dry eyes and skin allergies or suffers a torn ligament or tendon. As a dog ages, it often develops age-related osteoarthritis or becomes more susceptible to diseases that affect their kidneys or liver. When this occurs, most owners would want to have the latest medical technology and procedures available to heal their beloved pet.
Cutting Edge Technology
Aaron Hirschhorn, an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience operating and investing in technology companies, is also a dog-lover. He created the DogVacay app in 2013, raising $47 million from investors. In 2016 he was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. DogVacay merged with Rover.com in April of 2017 to create a $1 billion pet services company.
But when Hirschhorn suffered a debilitating back injury that did not respond to traditional surgery or medications, he turned to stem cell treatment, with life-changing results. Hirschhorn realized that man’s best friend could also benefit from this revolutionary, cutting-edge treatment. In mid-2018 he founded Gallant to provide this option to dog owners.
A Short Science Lesson: Stem Cells
What exactly are stem cells? Unlike other cells, stem cells are capable of regenerating themselves and can turn into other types of cells, such as bone, heart or brain cells. These cells can then repair or replace tissue that has been damaged by injury, disease or aging. In addition, stem cells are also able to reduce inflammation or fibrosis and increase growth of new blood vessels. However, most stem cells are lost over time, which means that “banking” them is necessary so they will be available when needed and capable of doing their healing work.
Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs?
According to information on the Gallant website, stem cell therapy has been used in animals for about 15 years and is currently used mostly for conditions such as arthritis and bone and ligament injuries. But research is showing that there is potential for other conditions, as well as possible preventive treatments. (For all you science lovers, the website has a great deal of interesting and specific information about stem cells!)
How to Bank a Dog’s Stem Cells
When a dog is spayed or neutered, the reproductive tissue is typically discarded. Gallant provides a collection kit that is sent to the veterinarian doing the surgery. No special training is needed. Gallant coordinates with the vet to have the kit delivered by courier. Once received by Gallant the tissue is inspected for quality. A proprietary method isolates and extracts the cells, which are then counted and frozen in liquid nitrogen to preserve their potency. The cells are stored in a secure, state-of-the-art laboratory, and monitored by the Gallant team to ensure they stay perfectly preserved. If treatment is needed in the future, the stem cells are sent directly to the veterinarian for the out-patient procedure, which is not painful and does not require anesthesia.
Any pet lover with an injured or aging dog knows they will do everything to ease their suffering. Having stored the dog’s stem cells when they are young can be one potentially important way to help make this possible.