Anesthesia, Pain Medicine, Animal Welfare
A veterinary anesthesiologist, pain specialist, and animal welfare scientist, Dr. Alicia Karas has dedicated her career to the alleviation of pain and stress in animals. She is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ACVAA).
Dr. Karas graduated from Tufts Veterinary School in 1989 and for several years worked in small animal and exotic practice in North Carolina and Texas prior to returning to Tufts to do a residency in anesthesiology. She developed an interest in pain medicine at a time when the field was still developing, and stayed at Tufts for a number of reasons: a love of New England, the Cummings School's commitment to animal and human welfare, and her husband's post at Tufts Medical School.
Dr. Karas started an elective on pain management in 1994 for DVM students and residents, and, along with her anesthesia section colleagues, brought many of the lectures into the school's core curriculum. She uses video often in her lectures to illustrate various indicators of pain in many species.
At the Cummings School, Dr. Karas teaches anesthesia and pain medicine for both companion and laboratory animal populations. She is always examining ways to assess pain, reduce stress and improve quality-of-life, either in the clinic or through her research. This includes reducing the pain of examinations by using skillful sedation, meeting postoperative needs for pain control and treating chronic pain. "What I love about teaching is the ability to share this vision of making hospital visits and everyday life as comfortable and fulfilled as possible," she says. "There are so many ways to do this—our clinicians and technicians work to diagnose and cure illness; along with that goes the experience of being cared for."
She has partnered with Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil and other veterinarians, technicians and hospital staff to forge new ways to reduce pain and stress throughout their hospital sojourn - known as the Patient Centered Care Initiative, or PCCI.
Dr. Karas also recognized that many of her elderly patients suffer from a form of cognitive dysfunction, similar to that seen in humans. She teaches her clients to use nutritional and other strategies to help to help dogs and cats deal with their senior challenges.
As the faculty mentor for our student run Pet Loss Hotline, she works to help our graduates understand the grieveing process and complicated grief, to learn the value of empathetic listening and self-care for the practitioner.
- DVM - Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine - 1989
- MS - Tufts School of Nutrition - 1985
- BA - Harvard University - 1981
- American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ACVAA)
- Mazor-Thomas, J.E., Mann, P.E., Karas, A.Z., Tseng, F. 2014. Pain-suppressed behaviors in the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
- Hekman, J.P., Karas, A.Z., Sharp, C.R. 2014. Psychogenic stress in hospitalized dogs: Cross species comparisons, implications for health care, and the challenges of evaluation. Animals.
- Rock, M.L., Karas, A.Z., Gallo, M.S., Pritchett-Corning, K., Gaskill, B.N. 2014. Housing condition and nesting experience do not affect the Time to Integrate to Nest Test (TINT). Animal Welfare.
- Rock, M.L., Karas, A.Z., Gartrell Rodriguez, K.B., Gallo, M.S., Pritchett-Corning, K., Karas, R.H., Aronovitz, M., Gaskill, B.N. 2014. The time-to-integrate-to-nest test as an indicator of wellbeing in laboratory mice. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.
- Gaskill, B.N., Karas, A.Z., Garner, J.P., Pritchett-Corning, K.R. 2013. Nest building as an indicator of health and welfare in laboratory mice.. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE.
- Hekman, J.P., Karas, A.Z., Dreschel, N.A. 2012. Salivary cortisol concentrations and behavior in a population of healthy dogs hospitalized for elective procedures. Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
- Karas, A.Z. 2011. Surgical management of the goat.. Lab animal.
- Karas, A.Z. 2011. To the editor. Lab Animal.
- Weaver, L.A., Blaze, C.A., Linder, D.E., Andrutis, K.A., Karas, A.Z. 2010. A model for clinical evaluation of perioperative analgesia in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.
- Abelson, A.L., McCobb, E.C., Shaw, S., Armitage-Chan, E., Wetmore, L.A., Karas, A.Z., Blaze, C. 2009. Use of wound soaker catheters for the administration of local anesthetic for post-operative analgesia: 56 cases. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia.
- Karas, A.Z., Danneman, P.J., Cadillac, J.M. 2008. Strategies for Assessing and Minimizing Pain. Anesthesia and Analgesia in Laboratory Animals.
- Fish, R.E., Brown, M.J., Danneman, P.J., Karas, A.Z. 2008. Preface. Anesthesia and Analgesia in Laboratory Animals.
- Abelson, A.L., Karas, A.Z. 2008. The authors respond. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Abelson, A.L., Faissler, D., Karas, A.Z. 2008. Anesthesia case of the month. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Fish, R., Danneman, P., Brown, M., Karas, A. 2008. Anesthesia and Analgesia in Laboratory Animals. Anesthesia and Analgesia in Laboratory Animals.
- Karas, A.Z. 2006. Barriers to assessment and treatment of pain in laboratory animals. Lab Animal.
- Flecknell, P., Karas, A. 2004. Assessing and managing pain and distress for ethics committees. ATLA Alternatives to Laboratory Animals.
- Chevalier, H.M., Provost, P.J., Karas, A.Z. 2004. Effect of caudal epidural xylazine on intraoperative distress and post-operative pain in Holstein heifers. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia.
- Karas, A.Z., Goldberg, A.M., Tranquilli, W., Gross, D. 2003. Recognizing signs of pain  (multiple letters). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Kaufman, G.E., Seymour, R.E., Bonner, B.B., Court, M.H., Karas, A.Z. 2003. Use of rocuronium for endotracheal intubation of North American Gulf Coast box turtles. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
General Research Interests
- Pain medicine, refinement research
Selected Research Projects
- Evidence-based surgical analgesia in the laboratory rabbit
- Evaluation of surgical analgesia in the laboratory mouse
- Effects of Bowen on stress in hospitalized dogs
- Nest behavior as an indicator of well-being in laboratory mice
Research and Clinical Interests
- Clinical assessment of pain
- Acute pain management
- Assessment and treatment of pain or distress in laboratory animals
- Animal well-being and quality of life
- Chronic and cancer pain
- Complementary medicine, acupuncture, manual therapies
- Anesthesiology & Pain Management
- An Introduction to Animal Welfare
- Animals in Society: Research
Research Interests by Area
Pain Management and Alternatives
- Evidence-based surgical analgesia in laboratory animals, pharmacokinetics of analgesic drugs in dogs, Analgesia, pain medication, complementary medicine, laboratory animals
Spontaneous Animal Disease Models
- Chronic pain in animals, post-operative pain