Horse Joint Supplements: Which is Right for Your Horse?
The 2005 Surpass Equine Arthritis Survey indicates that one in two horse owners in the United States has a horse affected with lameness, and that two-thirds of those owners identify joint pain rather than hoof pain as the cause of the problem. Obviously, joint health has become a major area of concern for horse owners, and it’s a health issue that deserves serious attention.
At the same time, there are so many joint supplements, injections, and medications on the market today that it can be quite difficult to choose the best product for your horse. That’s why in this issue I list some of the major products on the market for joint health and joint pain-relief, and discuss the pros and cons of each. I hope this article will help you more easily choose the right product for your horse.
This is an injectable solution containing PSGAGs (a component of joint cartilage) that may be a good option if you don’t think your horse will eat oral supplements or may not absorb them. This solution is good for low-grade chronic joint soreness, and as a way to prevent joint problems in older horses in heavy work. Adequan should be considered for any horse who is having difficulty in training with no obvious cause of pain. The horse could have very low-level joint pain that could be making it hard for the horse to learn and perform what he is being asked to do. The normal dosage of Adequan is a course of 5-7 intra-muscular injections, 5 days apart, followed by once-a-month injections for maintenance.
These neutralize the free radicals that are produced by heavy exercise, which can thin the joint fluid. Naturally-occurring antioxidants include blue-green algae, noni juice,mangosteen juice, super oxide dismutase (in wheat sprouts), vitamin C (in Citrus C/Q), vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, grape seed extract, omega-3 fatty acids (in chia seeds), and certain minerals such as sulphur. Antioxidants support the maintenance of healthy joints.
Bute and Banamine
These are both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with effects similar to aspirin. They offer pain relief but can have many side effects and interfere with healing. These should be reserved for either acute injuries or as a last resort for chronic pain when all other supplements have failed.
This is a single component of joint cartilage. The body cannot effectively use this component by itself, so look for a supplement that combines glucosamine with chondroitin sulphate, minerals, and antioxidants.
This herb supports the digestive, urinary, and circulatory systems and has an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, sedative, and diuretic action. Devil’s claw can be fed in combination with yucca in Ani-Motion, or individually. Devil’s claw is not as irritating to the horse as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, but if the horse has ulcers it can aggravate them, which might be an indication to feed yucca by itself.
This is a single component of joint cartilage. The body cannot effectively use this component by itself, so look for a supplement that combines glucosamine with chondroitin sulphate, minerals, and antioxidants. Good choices include Equine Mobility by Standard Process or Cosequin ASU.
This is a substance that can be injected directly into the joint, often combined with steroids if the inflammation. Remember, if you have the choice, use excellent nutrition and antioxidants before resorting to joint injections.
Legend is an intravenous injection composed of hyaluronic acid, which will thicken the joint fluid and decrease inflammation in the joint. Legend can be used if your horse is sore after a particularly hard workout or show. The initial dosage is one injection a week for 3 weeks. If a horse is in heavy work, the maintenance dose is one injection per month.
This supplement contains high levels of the antioxidant mineral sulphur, which is generally more supportive of muscles and connective tissues than joints. However, sulphur is component of cartilage and also an antioxidant so it can helpful in preventing joint damage.
Yucca is an herb that contains organic steroidal saponins. A saponin effect allows a cleansing penetration and dispersal digestive enzymes, and the steroidal effect limits inflammation. The feeding of yucca can be against some medication rules in performance situations, so if you are competing be sure check this out. Yucca can be fed in combination with Devil’s claw in Ani-Motion, or individually.
Horse Joint Health Resources
Hopefully the article above helped to clarify which products are best for your horse’s joint health needs. But if you are still unclear or have questions, you might want to check out:
- Holistic Horsekeeping Book (health information galore!)
About the Author
Madalyn Ward, DVM, owns Bear Creek Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas. She is certified in Veterinary Homeopathy and Equine Osteopathy.
Memberships include American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association and the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.
She has authored several books and publishes at her blog.