MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just like humans, dogs are living longer. So veterinarians are seeing more arthritis in dogs than ever before.

One new way of relieving those aches and pains is drawing on research done on Minnesota dogs as part of a nationwide study.

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Kreacher and his owner, Kathy, drove all the way from Fargo, North Dakota for his vet checkup.

“Kreacher had a shoulder injury when he was a couple years old,” said Kathy Rust. “And he had been developing quite a bit of arthritis in it.”

So, why make the drive to the Inver Grove Heights Animal Hospital? It’s the only vet in Minnesota taking part in a Nationwide Stem Cell Study for dogs with arthritis.

“They get the same things that adults get in arthritis,” said Dr. Ann Valenti. “Aches and pains, joint issues. They limp, they get up slowly.”

For vets like Dr. Ann Valenti, this study could be a game-changer.

“It helps to we’re hoping, maybe create some cells in the joints that will provide some pain relief,” said Valenti.

Half the dogs in the study get the stem cells and the other half get a placebo, Valenti won’t know which ones for a year, but she’s already noticing some changes.

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“I have some dogs where I think, they didn’t get it and some dogs where I think they for sure did,” said Valenti.

Today is Kreacher’s last check up for the study.

“I’m hoping it’s not the placebo and that I’m actually seeing things,” said Kathy. “But I do think I’m seeing an improvement in his bad shoulder.”

Seeing improvements in Kreacher is worth the drive itself, but for Kathy, it’s about the bigger picture of this nationwide study.

“On the chance that there’s research I’m always up to do it,” said Kathy. “What we learn from this study can help a lot of dogs in the future.”

“This is what I went to vet school for, to help animals,” said Valenti. “So if I can be on the cutting edge of medicine, then that’s fantastic.”

All the dogs in the study will eventually get the stem cell treatment. So if they had the placebo this time, they’ll get the real medicine later.

This is still at least a year away from FDA Approval, but what they learn from this study in dogs could also be helpful for humans with arthritis.

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