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CAM Meets Stephanie Badge Kindred

Stephanie Badge Kindred, DVM, CCRT

Dr. Badge graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. After graduation, she practiced general medicine for several years and then transitioned to exclusively emergency medicine and critical care for nearly 3 years before returning to general practice at West Orange Veterinary Hospital in 2012.

Dr. Badge has a long history with physical rehabilitation in her personal life. Growing up, she was a competitive gymnast who sustained several significant injuries and surgeries that landed her in the care of human physical therapists. Even at a young age, she was able to see the impact that rehabilitation had on improving recovery times, preventing re-injury, and improving overall performance.

When physical rehabilitation started making its way into veterinary medicine, she knew this would be an area full of inspiration and growth that she needed to be a part of. In 2014, Dr. Badge completed the Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) Program through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute. Since that time she has performed physical rehabilitation on patients affected by a wide range of conditions, but she has a special place in her heart for geriatric patients. She believes strongly that with improved mobility comes improved quality of life not only for the pet, but also for the pet parent, and she strives to empower pet parents to be an integral part in making their pet’s golden years shine as brightly as possible.

Dr. Badge provides physical rehabilitation services through Up Dog Veterinary Rehabilitation and she also continues to practice general medicine at West Orange Veterinary Hospital. Her professional interests include canine and feline physical rehabilitation, geriatric and hospice care, internal medicine, and emergency medicine/critical care. She is an active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians. She stays involved in the community by offering no-cost veterinary services to a local women’s shelter and educating younger generations about the amazing career of veterinary medicine any chance she gets.

Dr. Badge and her husband (also a veterinarian!) have 2 children, 3 dogs, and 2 cats that keep them busy when they’re out of the office but they still try to find time to enjoy their hobbies. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, travelling, exercising, horseback riding, and practicing yoga. Dr. Badge is actually a certified yoga instructor and this background served as her source of inspiration for the name “Up Dog Veterinary Rehabilitation”, after the yoga pose! She and her husband are proud alumni of the University of Florida and enjoy cheering on their home team…. Go Gators!


Stephanie kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

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

I feel we have come a long way! We are so much smarter now with regard to the importance of educating pet parents on how to recognise the signs of pain and the importance of early intervention. We know, now more than ever, the importance of using a multi-modal approach and we are fortunate to have so many pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical options that we can offer beyond just rest and pain medications.

Physical rehabilitation is quickly gaining recognition with veterinary professionals and I am seeing more and more pet parents seek out our services so that a more comprehensive treatment plan can be initiated for their pets and because of this I am seeing better outcomes. I am seeing happier clients and happier pets because we have more to offer them.

Having so many options can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse because it can be so overwhelming to sift through the choices. Pet parents can become frustrated with the over-abundance of information and they worry about whether or not they can pursue all the options placed before them. I think it’s important to recognise that, and to try to help them find solace in the fact that simply being proactive about their pet’s care today puts them farther ahead than they were yesterday. We are lucky, in that for most cases, we can call on this abundance of options to find something to help make their pet better than they were prior to coming to us.

I’m proud of our profession for seeing the importance of empowering the pet parent to be apart of the management plan and I think that makes a huge difference in how successful our management can be.


As a veterinary professional/rehabber what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?

I think it’s the delicate art of finding balance between providing realistic expectations, educating and empowering pet parents, and listening to what the patient is telling you. These things all have to come together to make the best decisions and it can be easier said than done.

Unfortunately, we all know obesity is a problem for many pets, and it can often be the rate-limiting step of any successful arthritis management plan. As veterinary professionals, we know the importance of maintaining a lean body condition and the incredibly positive impact that weight loss can have for improving the comfort of an arthritic pet, but this can be challenging to convey to pet parents.

We first must set realistic expectations by educating them on the limitations we will face if a pet remains overweight. We must provide them with realistic time frames to achieve healthy weight loss and face the most common pitfalls that cause failure to lose weight.

We must then educate and empower them to be an integral part in the weight loss plan. I personally find this part to be the most challenging because discussing this with pet parents can bring about feelings of guilt or blame that we must overcome as the veterinary professional. We must let them know that we are here to work with them and to be on their team and that we have no judgement towards them. Pet nutrition is a hot and often controversial topic, and pet parents are flooded with conflicting information regarding what is the best formulation, amount, frequency, and manner in which to feed their pets. As veterinary professionals, it is our duty to try to clear the path for them and to provide evidence-based guidance that is in the best interest of their furry family member.

And then we must listen to the patient. Dogs will challenge you just as much as they love you!  We have to remain flexible with our recommendations because they may not like a particular food that we prescribe, or they may develop gastrointestinal issues from diet changes despite our best efforts. Sometimes begging behaviours become problematic during a weight loss plan, or training becomes more difficult because treats are limited. Other times, the human-animal bond may be affected by our weight loss plans and it is our role to stick by the pet parent to find solutions to these problems so that we can keep the goal in focus. We must work together to make our recommendations work for everyone on the team, and that means really listening to what each member is telling you.


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

Oh the places we will go! The technological advances we have made in the last 10 years have been monumental and have paved the way for future advancements. I think regenerative medicine will become much more widely accepted and available and I hope that these services will become more commonplace with day practice veterinarians so that more pets can be reached. I also feel that there will be many more advancements in the modalities that we can offer, their indications for use, and making them available to use at home rather than just in the clinic. So many patients are limited in what we can offer them simply because they are anxious in the clinic. If we can find affordable, drug-free options that we can educate owners how to use at home then I think we will see even more successful results.


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?

Have faith… and have patience! It’s hard to watch a loved one in pain and it can create a lot of anxiety and distress for pet parents. It’s easy to forget that arthritis is a condition that has been progressing slowly over a very long period of time, and as such, it often takes time to find the right treatment plan. With so many options available it can be overwhelming and difficult to know what to try first, or how many things to implement at once. We need to remember to give each treatment time to work and each pet time to adjust to the treatments we are prescribing. We all know that weight loss is the most important part of arthritis management but it’s easy to forget that it can take several months for the weight to come off with a diet plan. I try to educate clients in this fact, and remind them that it’s the small, daily victories that come together to improve the overall quality of life for their pet.