Pain, discomfort and stiffness are all symptoms of equine arthritis. Like with humans, horses need to keep moving to maintain their existing physical ability. While arthritis usually affects older horses, the horse's workload throughout its life also affects its chance of the disease. Arthritis is not curable, but the right supplement can alleviate the pain and discomfort, making that horse a productive member of the herd for years to come.
Glucosamine is a six-carbon amino sugar, which joint cartilage uses to enable ease of movement. According to the School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University, "studies in rats, dogs, and humans have shown that 95 per cent of glucosamine hydrochloride is absorbed and available to the body for use by the articular cartilage after oral administration." This makes it one of the best supplements for arthritis on the market. In addition, horses can orally consume liquid glucosamine, because the sugar is water-soluble. For many horse owners, the liquid form makes it easier to administer.
Chondrotin Sulfate, found in adult articular cartilage, is the second compound recommended by the School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University as a joint supplement. According to the university, "absorption of CS has been reported for man, dogs, and rats and less than 15 per cent of the molecules are absorbed as intact CS molecules." Chondroitin is often administered with glucosamine, and studies at the University of Southern California found that the additive does positively affect the horse when used in conjunction with glucosamine. Other additives to glucosamine with chondroitin include methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), an anti-inflammatory used on humans, horses and dogs, and Vitamin C, linked to collagen, which maintain cartilage and ligaments. As of 2010, studies have not been done to prove the effectiveness both MSM and Vitamin C. Horse owners can purchase MSM and Vitamin C separately from glucosamine or chondroitin.
The natural remedy, called Devil's Claw, decreases inflammation and provides some pain relief for joint diseases. The remedy. similar to steroids, uses the plant's roots rather than the claw shaped seedpods, which is how the plant got its name. It primarily grows in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Equine Arthritis warns against using Devil's Claw in female animals because the herb causes uterine contractions.
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- University of Illinois: Equine Joint Health
- Louisiana State University: Joint Supplements in Horses
- KBR Horse Health Information: Managing Arthritis in Horses
- Equine Arthritis: Joint Supplements: The Good, the Bad, and the Useless
- University of Souther California: Pure Glucosamine Sulfate vs. Glucosamine Chondroitin: Which Is the Most Effective Treatment for the Arthritic Horse