Dr. Alicia Karas

Alicia Karas, DVM

Proud alumna of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Dr. Alicia Karas went on to do advanced training in anesthesiology, becoming a Diplomate of the College of Veterinary Anesthesiology and Analgesia in 1996. Why choose anesthesiology? “At the time, it seemed like a cool thing that everyone else was afraid of,” she says, now, she says it turned out to be a career choice that led her to study and learn so many new ways to help animals. After becoming a faculty member at the Cummings School, she started to focus on pain medicine. “Pain control at that time was poorly understood.” She wanted to learn how to tell if patients were in pain, and what to do. She was fortunate to have colleagues at Cummings and nationally who shared this important concern, and she has since studied, authored numerous textbook chapters and articles on pain treatment and assessment, and has taught students and veterinary audiences nationally and internationally.

Her overriding passion is to see that animals are treated as gently and compassionately as possible, no matter why they are in our human sphere. This translates to helping veterinary staff reduce the stress and pain of examinations by using skillful sedation, meeting postoperative needs for pain control and other comfort measures in hospitalized dogs and cats. She loves the geriatric dog and cat especially and also has studied methods to help with things like chronic pain, cognitive dysfunction, disability and end of life considerations. She is also the faculty mentor for the Cummings School’s Pet Loss Hotline, staffed with caring veterinary students who take turns answering calls from grieving pet owners during the school terms. In recent years, she has developed an oral medication combination that can help many dogs and cats handle the stress of veterinary visits, known as “the Chill Protocol”.

In 2011, she started as the attending anesthesiologist and pain specialist 2 days a week at Tufts VETS (Walpole). “This is an amazing specialty practice – we are small enough that we all kind of know what each other is working on and we help each other in the quest to help our patients and their humans.” Her passion for the place took a turn for the ultimate challenge, when in 2018, she took on the role of hospital director. “The challenges of specialty practice are many – high caliber medical care (for diseases we never used to successfully conquer) can be costly. Communication about medical care is something that we desperately need to keep working on. We also totally understand our clients’ infatuation with their furry family members because we are infatuated with our own dogs and cats - every moment they are away from us in hospital is fraught with worry. My goal is to see how much better we can make it for everyone involved, including our staff.” She still maintains her role as the attending anesthesiologist at Tufts VETS, being responsible for low stress handling, ensuring skillful anesthesia and pain management protocols for patients.

When not at work, the focus is on making a wonderful life centered around the dog kin and dog friends, crocheting like a mad woman, and a newly acquired hobby, playing the djembe (West African hand drum). The word, “djembe” means “everyone gather together in peace.

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