CAM blogs

CAM Meets David Dycus

David L. Dycus, DVM, MS, CCRP
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons – Small Animal
Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

Dr. Dycus attended Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine for his veterinary degree, Auburn University for a small animal rotating internship, and Mississippi State for a combined surgical residency and Masters degree.

His research was focused on developing a model to evaluate oxidative stress on the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis. He also completed a biomechanical study looking at different knotting techniques to for cruciate rupture. To remain on the cutting edge of research, Dr. Dycus holds an appointment on the research committee of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Along with being a scientific reviewer for multiple journals, he serves on the editorial review board for Veterinary Surgery and numerous other veterinary and human orthopaedic journals.

Dr. Dycus has a strong passion for orthopaedics and sports medicine. He is particularly interested in helping patients with arthritis along with fracture mechanics and joint problems. He is trained in the use of arthroscopy, minimally invasive fracture repair, regenerative medicine, as well as a number of orthopedic procedures for the treatment of ruptured cruciate ligaments. Dr. Dycus received his stem cell certification in 2010, and he became a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner through the University of Tennessee in 2015. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Institute (VSMRI), an online veterinary rehabilitation learning platform. In addition he is the founder and CEO of Dycus Veterinary Consulting.


Dr Dycus kindly agreed to answer the following questions:
How do you feel that Canine Arthritis is currently managed?

Personally, I feel like canine arthritis (OA) is poorly managed. We as a veterinary profession have done a poor job at setting up owners to create the lifestyle changes needed to help slow down and minimise this disease condition. In the dog, OA is typically secondary to something, so the first thought should be how to  fix or prevent the “something”. In some situations this is easy, we need to begin talking to clients about maintaining an active low impact daily exercise routine in combination with keeping dogs fit and trim. I suspect that if we kept dogs lean and active many of the orthopaedic issues we see would decrease. In addition we need to do a better job of diagnosing and treating/managing conditions that can lead to the development of OA sooner. Such conditions as elbow and hip dysplasia have various management strategies that can be employed if detected early in life. Unstable joints should be stabilised such as with tearing of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL).

By far and large the most important aspect is owner education. Owners need to be aware that OA is not a curable condition, rather it is something that we manage. Owners need to know that as the disease progress our job as veterinarians is to create a patient specific management plant that has to be MULTIMODAL and that what may work at one point in the disease process may not be as effective at another point. This multimodal approach has to have the priority for control pain and getting it under control. There is much more to pain control than relying solely on pharmaceuticals so the old say of “here is your anti-inflammatory and that’s all we can do approach” has to change. We can do better!!


How do you see the future for managing this disease?

My hope would be to move towards early recognition and  early management. It is far easier to maintain joint comfort, range of motion, and daily activity and avoid pharmaceuticals if it is started well before patients begin to show clinical signs. In addition, I would like to see less reliance on pharmaceuticals and more reliance on providing comfort through daily exercise, formal rehabilitation therapy, and disease modifying osteoarthritis agents (DMOAs). The goal of pharmaceuticals should to use the lowest dose possible as infrequently as possible. The future of management is always changing, and now more than ever we have lots of management options from intra-articular injections, formal rehabilitation therapy, DMOAs, and additional pharmaceuticals other than just anti-inflammatories that can prove to be beneficial.


If you could give an owner one tip what would it be?

Keep your dog active and lean. Being active comes from daily exercise, and no this is not running around in the back yard or chasing the ball. This is through daily walking and getting the heart rate up for an extended period of time. Keeping dogs lean comes from appropriate diet as well as daily exercise.


David Dycus DVM, MS, CCRP
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons- Small Animal
Orthopedic Staff Surgeon
Veterinary Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Group (VOSM)
10975 Guilford Rd
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701
(240)295-4400 (office)

Veterinary Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Institute (VSMRI)