Prolotherapy for Dogs: Forerunner To Stem Cell Regenerative Therapy?

Prolotherapy is a non-surgical treatment that can increase tendon and ligament strength and relieve arthritis in dogs.

In involves injections of substances to induce inflammation or facilitate other reactions in the affected tissues. The goal is to relieve pain and improve function.

Prolotherapy is an alternative treatment option some veterinarians have used for decades.

Prolotherapy for Dogs: Prolotherapy is a non-surgical treatment used to increase tendon and ligament strength and relieve arthritis in dogs.

Prolotherapy was the first non-surgical option we were researching as a possible treatment for Jasmine’s partial ACL tear. I learned about it from an Australian veterinarian. She has been using it to treat arthritis but felt that it might work in our case as well. After further research and consultations, we eventually decided to go with the stem cell regenerative therapy. Interestingly enough, we would have probably never found out about it if it wasn’t for our research into prolotherapy.

Whether they share common roots or not, both prolotherapy and stem cell regenerative therapy employ your dog’s own healing mechanism to treat injuries, pain, and chronic inflammation. One could say that stem cell regenerative therapy is a shortcut to what prolotherapy achieves indirectly. To understand how, let’s take a look at the body’s healing process.


Inflammation is the body’s response to injury. It serves two purposes. It is a body’s attempt to remove a foreign object or pathogen, and it initiates regeneration of damaged tissue. Without inflammation, there would be no healing.


Prolotherapy employs targeted, controlled inflammation to stimulate healing where your dog’s own healing ability fell short. It involves the injection of mild irritant solution into the site of pain or injury. This triggers an inflammatory response that starts the healing process. Different veterinarians use different cocktails, some of which include pain reliever as well.

How does inflammation treat inflammation?

How do you fight fire by fire?

There are two types of inflammation. Acute and chronic. It is the chronic inflammation, such as arthritis, that is counter-productive. Acute inflammation, on the other hand, is a complex process— it recruits the body’s resources to repair damaged tissues.

Prolotherapy is not a new idea. First attempts to use injections of irritant solutions for therapeutic purpose date in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Prolotherapy versus stem cell regenerative therapy

Stem cells are at the root of any tissue regeneration. Prolotherapy triggers healing by means of inflammatory response. The inflammation recruits stem cells to start the process of repair.

Stem cell regenerative therapy delivers ready-for-action stem cells directly.

Both stem cell regenerative therapy and prolotherapy can help dogs suffering from the same conditions, such as arthritis or orthopedic injuries.

I believe that regenerative stem cell therapy is superior to prolotherapy.

But I also believe in understanding all available options. If you cannot afford the stem cell therapy, or if your dog would respond poorly to anesthesia, prolotherapy might be an option to consider.

Is prolotherapy safe?

Prolotherapy is generally very safe, though some veterinarians warn against the danger of bone infection when treating joints. But any procedure can go wrong. The competence of your veterinarian will play an important role. I know veterinarians who have been using prolotherapy to treat dogs and horses for many years, with no ill effects.

Related articles:
Canine Hip Dysplasia and Prolotherapy: From The Case Files—Hunter’s Hip Dysplasia Was Nearly A Death Sentence

Further reading:
A Case for Prolotherapy and Its Place in Veterinary Medicine

Categories: Alternative treatmentsProlotherapyRegenerative veterinary medicine

Tags: :

Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

Share your thoughts