Rheumatoid Arthritis in Horses

Written by amber hemmer
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Rheumatoid Arthritis in Horses
Learn the basics of rheumatoid arthritis in horses. (horse image by Penny Williams from Fotolia.com)

Rheumatoid arthritis in horses happens the same way it does in humans. It is a chronic disease that affects the joints. While there is no cure for the disease, the symptoms are treatable. However, the disease and symptoms will worsen over time.


The cause of rheumatoid arthritis in equines is the general wear and tear of joints over time. The joints become inflamed and sore, resulting in bone erosion and a decrease in cartilage. Joint cartilage helps cushion the bones when they carry weight. Without this cartilage, walking and running becomes very painful.


Rheumatoid arthritis is hard to diagnose in its early stages. As the disease wears on, the horse's joints will appear enlarged and red. They will also be hot to the touch, signalling inflammation. The horse may experience trouble walking or walk and run with a limp. This is usually the case in the later part of the disease.


There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. The symptoms are treatable and some joint supplements may be given to slow down the progression of the disease. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe the proper medications and treatments for your horse. It will usually consist of general exercise of the joint, an inflammation medication and joint supplement.

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