Focus on….The Regenerative Medicine Team

 

 

Fresh from their success at the recent Linnaeus Achievement Awards we caught up with Andy Armitage, Clinical Director for the Regenerative Medicine team at Greenside, to dig a bit deeper into the UK’s leading referral centre for regenerative therapies and find out more about the revolutionary techniques they provide for treating pets.

 

 

 

How does it feel having been awarded the Freedom Award at the recent Linnaeus Awards?

It was actually a total surprise. We weren’t expecting it but the whole team was very excited to hear our name revealed as the winner. We were all buzzing after the news and it made us feel so honoured to be chosen from such a group of worthy potential winners. We are very proud of the achievement and after such a difficult year for the whole team, it really couldn’t have come at a better time to go into 2021 with a renewed sense of achievement and recognition.

How long has the Regenerative Medicine team been operating at Greenside?

We started regenerative treatments at Greenside about seven or eight years ago. What started off as a few cases for our own clients has grown and developed over the years to become a comprehensive service providing advanced treatments, not only for our first opinion patients but also for referral clients from all over the UK and even Europe. The unit first opened as a dedicated clinic for regenerative medicine four years ago.

And Andy, what made you decide to specialise in Regenerative Medicine techniques?

When I started treating patients with regenerative medicine many years ago (at a time when the technology was still very new) I soon came to realise that this was the treatment of the future. Some of my early cases had end-stage osteoarthritis and were on a cocktail of drugs, with their pain and debility not well controlled. I found that by targeting areas of pathology with stem cell therapy it often resulted in miraculous improvements with the reduction of pain, increased mobility and improved quality of life. The more cases I treated, the more amazing the responses I observed. When we were seeing such an amazing effect, we knew we had found a new treatment option that was minimally invasive and was able to reverse the chronic degenerative conditions that we were trying to treat. Therefore, it was not really a decision to specialise in this field but rather an evolution of mindset, with my workload becoming more focussed on using these therapies.

What techniques/treatments are included under the term Regenerative Medicine?

Regenerative medicine is defined as a branch of medicine that uses biological therapies to grow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues. Stem cells are used in regenerative therapies to enhance the body’s ability to regenerate damaged tissues and metabolic processes after acute or chronic insult. In addition to stem cells, we also use platelet-rich plasma as another form of biological therapy as well as other treatment modalities such as laser therapy, shockwave therapy and physical therapies to help stimulate the healing process. Unlike traditional treatments, regenerative therapies have the ability to modify and reverse a disease process and restore function instead of just masking clinical signs, such as pain.

How do these differ from other treatments that are available?

Regenerative therapies are minimally invasive treatment options that do not require surgical intervention or drugs that may have side effects. We are using the body’s own regenerative cells to treat or cure a disease process. Regenerative therapies can not only stop further degeneration but also repair and replace abnormal tissues such as torn tendons or damaged cartilage.

What benefits does Regenerative Medicine provide to the animal?

It provides an alternative treatment option which does not involve invasive procedures, and that has the potential to address the underlying disease process and treat pain and debility without any side effects or complications. We have developed protocols to successfully manage patients with elbow dysplasia without surgical interventions and believe we have found the most successful treatment option to treat this challenging and common condition. Regenerative medicine provides additional options for managing many conditions where traditional treatments are not effective or have failed. It gives owners more options to consider and, in many cases, provides greater efficacy and better outcomes in a minimally invasive manner.

You recently refurbished the Regenerative Medicine facilities at Greenside – what do you now have available for treating those animals referred to you?

We now have a purpose-built separate centre for regenerative medicine and rehabilitation and pain management. We have a diagnostic suite that allows us to take incredibly detailed radiographic images and high-resolution musculoskeletal ultrasound to investigate soft tissue problems, intra-articular structures and intervertebral discs. We have needle scopes to visualise intra-articular structures in a minimally invasive manner that is even less invasive than arthroscopes. The new facility also boasts two areas for objective gait assessment – including a gait analysis treadmill and a static force plate and stance analysis. These are used to diagnose subtle lameness and compensatory issues as well as to measure the response to treatments in an evidenced-based objective manner. We have two purpose-built physiotherapy suites with all the equipment required to successfully rehabilitate animals following surgery or regenerative therapies. We also have an underwater treadmill that is used for hydrotherapy.

Is there a particular case that stands out for you over the years?

One of the first cases I treated with stem cells was Cassie, a spaniel with severe generalised end-stage osteoarthritis and intervertebral disc disease. She was on a combination of drugs and multimodal approaches to control her pain, but she was deteriorating. Her owners were considering euthanasia when I offered regenerative treatments. We injected all of Cassie’s joints and spine with autologous stem cells and she had an awesome response. In twelve weeks, she went from a dog with little quality of life to one that was full and active. Her joints prior to treatment were inflamed, painful, restricted and any movement resulted in audible crepitus due to complete loss of cartilage. Three months following treatment the range of motion in her joints had increased dramatically, any movement was smooth without crepitus, and her mobility and activity restored. Cassie went on for three more, pain-free, years. Cassie’s response to treatment changed the way I practiced veterinary medicine.

What is the best thing about working as part of the Regenerative Medicine team at Greenside?

Having a multidisciplinary team that are all involved in the care and management of the case. Also, having colleagues who are my friends with everyone working hard to ensure the best outcomes for the patients under our care. The responses we see are life-changing for the patient, as well as the owners, and it is so rewarding to work in an environment where we can truly make a difference to our patients’ lives.

And finally, what does the future look like for you and the Regenerative Medicine Team?

The service and team have grown organically over the years and we are looking forward to welcoming four new members of the team in January to allow expansion of our services and caseload. We have collected a lot of data on treatment responses to regenerative therapies over the years and are now in a position to publish the data. We hope to publish a paper in the early part of 2021 detailing the response to treatment in hundreds of dogs. We hope that this publication will raise awareness and promote the efficacy of our pioneering treatments so that we can provide these to many more patients and improve their quality of life.


The Regenerative Medicine Team from left to right – Leanne, Katrina, Christina, Catherine, Kathryn, Andrew, Aimee.

You can find out more about the work the team do here.

 

Tooth Brushing Guide for Small Animals

Brushing is by far the best method for keeping your pet’s teeth clean and is more successful if taken in stages. Ideally, it would help if you brushed your dog’s teeth at least once daily to help remove plaque and prevent tartar build-up.

STAGE 1: Build confidence

  • Smaller pets can be placed at a comfortable height where they feel secure, such as on a chair, table, or lap covered with a towel to prevent slipping.
  • For cats, it can be easier if there are two people. For larger pets, it may be best to leave them on the floor.
  • Gently rub the face and muzzle with fingers and hands only. Work up to being able to gently hold the mouth closed for a short period. This can be done by placing fingers on top of the nose, or muzzle, with the thumb under the chin.
  • Do this for approximately 30 seconds and then reward with some fuss, play, a treat, or all the above.
  • Repeat daily for at least five days or until your pet is relaxed and comfortable with this.

STAGE 2: Finger brushing

  • Place your pet in the same position you used when building their confidence (Stage 1).
  • Gently close the mouth as practiced. The lips will be relaxed, so there is no need to try and hold the mouth open.
  • Apply a small amount of pet-specific toothpaste to a fingertip or finger toothbrush and slide under the lip to rub the paste onto the teeth.
  • Start from the canine (fang teeth) and work backward.
  • Many pets find the incisors (small teeth at the front of the mouth) very sensitive, so only brush these once your pet has become used to the other teeth being brushed.

STAGE 3: Moving on to a toothbrush

  • Once your pet is happy with the finger brushing, you can progress on to a toothbrush. Brushes specifically designed for both dogs and cats are best.
  • Place the pet-specific toothpaste onto the brush, slide under the gum, and gently brush the teeth.
  • We recommend working hard at ensuring that both sides of the mouth are equally brushed. This may mean starting on the side that you feel least comfortable brushing.
  • When you start brushing, you may notice a small amount of blood on the toothbrush. As you continue to brush this will stop appearing as you will be tackling the gum disease responsible for the bleeding. If it does not stop, please contact us so we can advise on the next steps.

 ADVANCED LEVEL

Consider the gums
If you find the brushing easy and your pet is very tolerant, you may also be able to brush their gums. To do this, you will need to look carefully at which teeth you are brushing. Angle the toothbrush so that the bristles gently clean the gum around the base of each tooth. This is advanced level brushing and only to be attempted if you and your pet are comfortable and confident to do so.

In addition to brushing, the following can also help keep teeth and gums healthy…

GELS
Gel products are beneficial for pets that suffer from or are likely to develop gum disease. Gels can also be helpful for cats where brushing is not tolerated as they can be applied with a cotton bud initially, and may allow for progression to a toothbrush.

ORAL RINSES
Oral rinses are useful if gums are too sore to brush, especially immediately after dental treatment. Like gels, oral rinses are to be used daily.

SPECIALIST DIETS
Some brands of pet food offer a range specifically designed to be kind to your pet’s teeth and to be used in conjunction with brushing. The biscuit size, shape, and texture is formulated to provide an increased abrasive action. Please speak to us to find out which diet would be the most suitable for your pet.

DENTAL CHEWS
Dental chews may help to reduce plaque accumulation and tartar formation on teeth, and pets love the taste. However, it is important to not solely rely on them as evidence indicates that chews alone are not capable of maintaining long term oral health.

For more information or advice, please contact us.

January is National Walk Your Dog Month

If you’re a dog owner, you’ll know that every month is walk your dog month, as our canine friends need regular exercise all year round! But during January – with the enjoyment of Christmas a distant memory, the cold weather continuing, and those dreaded January blues to deal with – it can be tempting to put off walking your dog.

Walking your dog can bring benefits for both of you, which can be especially important in January, so our advice is to embrace this time of year.

Exercise

Many of us will have indulged over Christmas, and our waistlines may be showing the effects of one too many mince pies. Regular walks with your dog can help to combat December’s Christmas indulgence without the need to hit the gym. Weight management is important for your dog too, and walks are a good way of helping to regulate their weight alongside a healthy diet.

Mental wellbeing

Getting out and about can be good for your mental wellbeing as it takes you away from the stresses of everyday life. With time to process your thoughts, the effect of your dog’s excitable happiness when they realise it’s time for ‘walkies’, and the shared camaraderie and exchanges with other dog walkers will leave you feeling brighter and more enthusiastic.

Fresh air

If you’ve been spending more time indoors lately with windows closed and the heating on, you may have forgotten just how good it feels to get some fresh air. Getting outside and breathing deeply can clear your lungs, unblock a congested nose, give you more energy and focus your mind. It’s good for lowering heart rate and blood pressure too.

Plus, being outside gives your dog the chance to be a dog! Dogs love sniffing out scents and exploring so, while it may not be the fresh air they’re breathing in, they’ll appreciate the benefits it brings. It will also aid their food digestion and energy levels.

Technology downtime

If you’re guilty of spending a lot of time on your mobile phone, games console, or watching box sets on TV, going outside can be a welcome distraction. Take in your local area, absorb your surroundings, and enjoy living in the moment. Spend time focussing purely on your dog; run around the park with them or take a ball to play fetch. They’ll appreciate your attention. Your tech will still be there when you get back.

Ensure you stay safe by reminding yourselves of our tips for walking your dog at this time of year here

Now grab that lead, put on your warm coat, and off you go!

Pet Passports no longer valid from 1 January 2021

From 1 January, Official Veterinarians (OVs) issued EU pet passports will no longer be valid for travel to and from the EU.

Instead, Official Animal Health Certificates will be required for dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from Great Britain to the EU (up to five pets on one certificate).

We will be issuing these to owners travelling with their pet to the EU from 1 January 2021.

This will affect your travel if you are arriving in an EU Member State after 11.00pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020.

Your pet must:

  • Have a functioning microchip or tattoo
  • Have a rabies vaccination at least 21 days before travel
  • Enter the EU via a designated Traveller’s Point of Entry
  • Have an Animal Health Certificate written in the official language of the country they will enter the EU by
  • Receive treatment against Echinococcus (a tapeworm) 24-120 hours before returning to Great Britain

The Animal Health certificate is:

  • Valid for ten days from the date of issue
  • Valid for a single trip into the EU
  • Valid for onward travel within the EU for four months
  • Valid for re-entry to Great Britain for four months after the date of issue

We suggest that, where possible, you discuss your travel plans with your vet at least one month before your intended travel to ensure your pet is prepared for travel.

Please contact us for advice on the steps required and ensure you have the necessary appointments booked for your pet.

The most up to date information can be found on the government website at www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit