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CAM Meets Dr Tara Edwards


Dr. Tara Edwards, DVM is a certified veterinary pain practitioner, canine rehabilitation therapist, veterinary medical acupuncturist and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Tara Edwards graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. She started in mixed animal practice then migrated into small animal practice. Her passion for animal rehabilitation grew during this time and she obtained her certification as a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist in 2006 from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute.  In 2012, she obtained her certification as a Veterinary Pain Practitioner through the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.

In 2012 she obtained board certification with the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Her areas of interest include improving the quality of care for geriatrics with arthritis and raising the bar for pain management.

In 2014 she obtained certification in veterinary medical acupuncture and is excited to add this to her pain management tool box.  Dr. Edwards has had the opportunity to work in busy referral type settings to provide advanced rehabilitative care as well as the experience of providing rehabilitation in the comfort of general practice.  Dr Edwards currently oversees the rehabilitation service at VCA Tri Lake Animal Hospital, in British Columbia Canada.


Dr Edwards kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition in dogs?

I think with the advances in canine rehabilitation and all the resources that are now available to pet owners, there have been improvements in arthritis management over the last decade.  As with all things, there is still lots of room for improvement.  Overall, I feel that we are still missing early diagnosis in a large portion of pets and are starting our treatment recommendations late in the disease process.  Prevention and early intervention are truly the keys to successful OA management.  Arthritis is a progressive disease process so the more aggressively we intervene early on, the more effective we will be at maintain mobility which equates to not only quality of life but often quantity of life in our pets and patients.


How do you see treatment for arthritis progressing over the next ten years?

In addition to improvements in symptom control, I am hopeful that we will start to have pharmaceutical options that are targeting the underlying pathology of this inflammatory disease. Multi-modal treatment options (pharmaceutical and physical medicine modalities) for chronic pain patients will become more readily available as more veterinarians are involved in rehabilitation and pain management. Ongoing client or pet owner directed education will assist with earlier identification of behaviour changes that are occurring in the household.  Once pet owners start to acknowledge the clinical signs of pain in their pets, the veterinary profession can start promoting joint health and pain management tactics sooner.


What do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?

In addition to early recognition, we absolutely need a multi-modal approach where we are adding in different treatment strategies to assist with the management of this progressive disease. Each patient needs to have a tailored approach where we are customising their treatment plan. Weight management, nutrition, disease modifying agents, physical medicine modalities, therapeutic exercises, low-impact activity, life-style management, assistive devices, household modifications, injectable joint therapy, and surgery may all need to be considered as possible options to assist with slowing down the progression of arthritis and promoting long-term joint health.


If you could have the opportunity to give one tip/piece of advice to an owner with a dog suffering from arthritis what would it be?

Owners need to understand that age is not a disease and that their pet’s changes in behaviour may be due to chronic pain from arthritis. Likewise, having obesity contributes to their pet’s pain experience and compromises their joint health. Owners can play the biggest role in advocating for their pet’s mobility by encouraging a more ideal body condition and even the smallest amount of weight loss can have a huge impact on reducing joint inflammation and lameness.