The average horse will suffer from joint pain and a steady decline in performance. But you can do something about it! This is where joint supplements for horses come in.
A supplement is designed to replace a nutrient deficiency. These deficiencies are caused by the environment and the diet of a horse. Athleticism or injury may also lead to nutrient deficiencies. Horse joint supplements are very popular because joint problems are common in equines.
Ageing can also cause a horse’s joints to become stiff and wear away; this is called osteoarthritis. These supplements can address all these issues and improve general horse health as well.
What Are Horse Joint Supplements?
Equine joint supplements are chemical compounds containing vitamins and minerals. The active ingredients commonly used in these supplements for a stiff horse are MSM, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine.
Joint supplements are designed to prevent lameness by protecting and supporting the joint tissues and fluids. They also help in the prevention of further damage of a joint.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints that alters flexibility. Horses that suffer from this disease especially need joint supplements. Young horses involved in light to heavy work, injured horses undergoing recovery, horses involved in sports and old horses are all prone to osteoarthritis.
Now, if your horse doesn’t have arthritis, then you’re still not in the clear. Any horse can get arthritis, so a rule of thumb is to supplement any horse that exhibits signs of joint discomfort such as reluctance to ride and stiffness.
That’s why we also review some of the best preventative joint supplements for horses in this article. You should start using these supplements on your horses as soon as the first signs of joint pain or discomfort appear. They don’t do much good once the disease progresses and the horse is crippled.
On the other hand, joint supplements for older horses help maintain a normal response to inflammation. This helps in general management of joint discomfort.
How to Choose the Right Horse Joint Supplement?
There are a number of factors that you need to look at when buying an equine joint supplement. Here are a few:
Identifying and choosing the right joint supplement is key. The owner must know what and how much to feed their horse. The right kind of ingredients will show long term health benefits and increase performance as well. Here, we have a detailed note on the active ingredients of horse joint supplements.
Glucosamine is an amino monosaccharide compound available as either glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine hydrochloride. It is the building block of all connective tissue and cartilage.
Glucosamine is resourced from shellfish. Other animal sources include the sternum or trachea cartilage of cattle or hydrolyzed collagen from ligaments, skin and tendons.
Manufactured glucosamine, or that derived from shellfish, is the best option for supplements. Glucosamine shows effects of pain relief sometimes as soon as 10-14 days of use. It encourages healing and slows cartilage breakdown.
Hence, it is often a component of joint supplements for older horses.
Chondroitin sulphate makes up the majority of connective tissue like that in the eyes, bone and cartilage. Pain relief from chondroitin is not as effective as that of glucosamine. However, it flows in the blood more freely and is absorbed quickly. Studies on chondroitin show that it primarily functions to prevent further cartilaginous breakdown.
Glucosamine + Chondroitin
A combination of these ingredients shows far superior results than when either is used alone. They form a part of many equine joint supplements available today. Different ratios of the two have been studied, but so far the results have been inconclusive.
This is a vital component of both joint fluid and cartilage. Hyaluronic acid has only recently been available as an oral supplement. It successfully controls swelling, heat and pain and is especially effective in acute flare-ups.
Avocado and Soy
These plant fats are usually not digested in the intestinal tract and can be extracted and purified by a special procedure. They are called unsaponifiables. An equine study was conducted where arthritis was induced by a surgical procedure. Results of the study showed that horses that were supplemented with Avocado and Soy had a protective effect against cartilaginous breakdown. However, both these animal fats did not reduce pain.
MSM joint support for horses is very popular in joint supplements. Its true mechanism of action is still unknown, but it is an effective anti-inflammatory.
Like every ingestible, horse joint supplements may also have a side effect on your equine partner.
For instance, the sulphur in MSM may cause sensitivity in some horses. This might lead to congestion, immune problems, skin problems, shortness of breath, congestion and fatigue.
Similarly, excessive amounts of Vitamin C in horse joint supplements can damage cartilage.
As a horse owner, it’s your responsibility to conduct maximum research and ensure that what you’re buying has no side-effects or allergic reactions for your horse.
When it comes to supplement dosage, we always recommend you follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your vet. However, here’s a general list of ingredients and their recommended daily dosage.
A dose of 6000-10,000 mg per day is enough to do the trick. Horses that do heavy work usually require amounts up to 10,000 mg per day. The same amount is usually given to injured horses as a loading dose, which helps in speeding up the results.
To see results, try giving 1250-5000 mg of chondroitin per day to your horse.
The most rapid results are observed in gel supplements but they are a bit expensive. The dosage for hyaluronic acid is about 100 mg per day. Powdered supplements also contain hyaluronic acid. When as little as 20 mg of hyaluronic acid is added to chondroitin and glucosamine, the results are very productive in some horses.
Avocado and Soy
A dose of 1200 mg per day is suggested for maximum results.
An equine study showed that in hock arthritis, it takes a dose of about 20,000 mg per day to see results. But often, it is not found in joint supplements in that high a dose. To try out this ingredient, use a pure MSM product and vary the dose until you find one that is right for your horse.
Supplements for horse joints are available in a number of forms like liquid or pellets. Each form has its own list of benefits that you should know before buying one.
Liquid supplements are preferred by horse owners as these are easy to absorb from the digestive tract. These supplements can be given as a whole or mixed with food.
Similarly, you can also give pellets as a whole or added to the daily feed of your horse.
Horse joint supplements are also found in powder-form, which is ideal for fussy horses. These can be added to their drink or mixed in food.
If your horse creates a lot of mess while eating, then wafer supplements are an option to consider. Wafer supplements are usually apple or cinnamon flavoured, so they’re palatable and can be given after a training session as a treat.
The 10 Best Horse Joint Supplements
Now that we have reviewed the active ingredients of horse joint supplements, let’s have a look at some of the high demand products available in the market and the reasons for their efficiency. There are many products available, but these ones are a class apart and for good measure. More on it below:
The key ingredients in this supplement help by increasing the horse’s synovial fluid, which is a lubricant in the joints that reduces stress for the horse while running. The Cox Veterinary formula strengthens connective tissues which soothes the joints. Also, it contains chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM and hyaluronic acid, all of which are ideal for combating horse joint pain. Not to mention, it comes in a pina colada flavour.
As the name suggests, this supplement contains MSM which is a tasteless, odourless, crystalline white powder that’s used for joint support and health. What’s more, MSM is also great for improving blood circulation. MSM contains bioavailable sulphur for maximum effect on the joints. This ensures quick assimilation as well.
The packaging of this supplement comes in three sizes; 2, 4 and 10 pounds. The 4-pound bucket contains a 184 day supply for an adult horse which is a fantastic deal for the price.
Cosequin comes highly recommended by vets as a joint supplement. It improves joint mobility and function in horses. What’s more, it supports a healthy cartilage matrix to battle the stress caused by everyday training and riding.
Cosequin inhibits the enzymes that lead to the breakdown of cartilage. Published research proves that this brand is effective, safe and bioavailable.
It contains 1800 mg of shellfish-derived glucosamine hydrochloride. It also contains 600 mg of bovine cartilage derived sodium chondroitin sulphate and 16 mg of manganese. Use this supplement initially for about 2 to 4 weeks.
LubriSyn is a hyaluronic acid joint supplement which offers multiple benefits to horses.
It has joint cushioning action for better mobility. With age, joint fluid decreases and causes arthritis due to friction. If that happens, your horse’s general riding and performance are hampered along with routine activities.
LubrisynHA, an ingredient of this supplement, replenishes synovial fluid and restores the lubrication of joints. It offers lubrication to alleviate pain associated with exercise, ageing and injury.
This formula is rapidly absorbed, offering joint protection as soon as 7 to 14 days. It is a clear and tasteless liquid formula and is also very easy to administer. Not to mention, it’s gluten-free and vegan.
This wafer-type supplement contains 5 different active ingredients; chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM, Yucca extract and Vitamin C. It increases the range of motion and also provides adequate support to the joints.
Majesty’s Flex is anti-inflammatory and helps with stiffness, mobility, pain and tension in horse joints. These wafers are great for horses that don’t like their food with liquid and powder supplements.
This eliminates waste. This unique formula made up of applesauce, molasses and oats makes sure that all the nutrients remain tightly bound to the wafer.
This supplement contains chondroitin sulphate, glucosamine hydrochloride, MSM, Vitamin C and Manganese. All of these are responsible for the optimal synthesis of collagen and healthy joint function and movement. This is a 3-in-1 supplement that focuses on the care of hooves, coat and joints.
It has 16mg of Biotin per 2 oz which aids in the best hoof conditioning.
It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids that are important for a healthy and lustrous coat and impeccable skin.
Not to mention, the Joint Combo supplement is available in apple cinnamon-flavoured pellets which are easily digested and ingested by horses.
The Vitaflex Pro supplement contains pure MSM and is available in white, crystalline, odourless granules that are easy to feed. It is a source of bioavailable sulphur for horses. What’s more, it comes in 1, 4 and 10-pound sizes to cater to a variety of dosage needs. The recommended dosage for horses is 1 scoop twice a day for the first week followed by a maintenance dose of 1 scoop daily.
You can either dissolve it in lukewarm water or give it dry in the top feed. This supplement contains about 10,000 mg of MSM in a scoop.
This horse joint supplement is the first of its kind. It’s an equine nutraceutical that is packed in potent resveratrol. It boosts the immune system to provide superlative muscle performance and optimal joint health and also relieves soreness.
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring substance that works on inflammatory enzymes to reduce joint inflammation. What’s more, Resveratrol is proven safe for long term daily use and is shown not to upset the digestive system as well.
Hyaluronic acid and resveratrol are the active ingredients in this joint supplement. Inactive ingredients include saccharomyces yeast, grape skin and seed powder, diatomaceous earth and fermentation solubles. It also provides additional protection against overheating which is an added comfort. As a powdered supplement, it can easily be added to the daily feed of a horse.
This is a great formula that contains a blue-green algae extract called Phycox that reduces pain and discomfort in normal daily activities. But not just that, it also contains glucosamine, MSM, Omega3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
Phycox is a naturally occurring phycocyanin product that inhibits the pathway of inflammation. Also, no side effects of this extract have been seen meaning that it doesn’t give rise to any gastrointestinal ulceration or any bleeding disorders.
It can easily be given to horses of all ages whether they are healthy or suffering from an underlying medical problem. Since it has no drug interactions; it can also be given in addition to a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
One of the best things about the PSPC Joint Support formula is that it maintains healthy muscle, bone and synovial fluid. This product is available in molasses and apple flavours. For an initial 4 to 6 weeks, give 2 -3 scoops daily followed by a maintenance dose of 1-1 ½ scoops.
Along with active ingredients such as MSM and glucosamine, this joint supplement for horses contains Cetyl Myristoleate which is a fatty acid that works to reduce inflammation. Regarding horse joints, it reduces the stress response and optimizes the immune system.
Competition and training horses can also benefit from it since it eases discomfort and aches.
It has a granular formula designed to improve joint mobility and health and is available in apple flavour. This treat for aching horses comes in a granular or pellet form and is sold in a variety of packaging and quantities. Dosage is 1-2 scoops for an initial period of 3 weeks followed by a maintenance dose of 1 scoop daily for an average horse.
FAQs about Joint Supplements for Horses
Now that you’re familiar with the basic concept of joint supplements for horses and their uses, benefits and ingredients, you might have some questions in your mind about them. For your benefit, we have tried to answer some of the most common questions that come in owners’ minds. Have a look below:
What is the best joint supplement for horses with arthritis?
The best joint supplement for horses with arthritis is Legacy joint support for senior horses. It is designed to maintain comfort and mobility in senior horses as they age. Their formula contains chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine for added comfort as they strengthen soft and connective tissue and joints. Additionally, it contains MSM and Yucca that help with pain relief and inflammation. Finally, the Vitamin E and ester-c in their formulation help in boosting the immune system.
Does my horse need joint supplements?
Yes, all horses need the extra nutrients that horse joint supplements have to offer. By fighting off signs of osteoarthritis, a joint supplement can help your horse with ageing. Also, don’t fall prey to the misconception that arthritis is limited to old horses or ones that are involved in sports. This disease can occur in any healthy horse that experiences work stress or is given an inadequate diet. Adding joint supplements to a horse’s diet will aid in comfort as well as prolong health.
How do you treat arthritis in a horse’s knees?
If your vet has diagnosed your horse with arthritis, prescription medications that are either intra articular, intramuscular or intravenous are the treatment of choice. For a degenerative disease like arthritis, Adequan is the only disease-modifying drug available. It is available in both intra-articular and intramuscular forms and comprises of polysulfated glycosaminoglycans that stimulate new cartilage production while eliminating discomfort.
Hyaluronate sodium in Legend intravenous or intra-articular injection helps with joint problems of the knees associated with arthritis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Equioxx oral paste, Surpass topical cream or phenylbutazone can also be given to address the symptoms.
Glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, MSM, Hyaluronic acid, Devil’s claw, Yucca, Vitamin C and superoxide dismutase are some components of horse joint supplements that can be beneficial as pre or post-arthritic supplements.
Does glucosamine work for horse joints?
For stronger horse joints, glucosamine is used alone and in combination with chondroitin sulphate by many horse owners since it helps in the regeneration of cartilage and bone. Some horses are sulphur sensitive so it is also available in non-sulphur forms to prevent an immune response.
Glucosamine is highly effective horse joint supplement for relieving pain in as little as 10 to 14 days. It also encourages healing in the joints for long-term rehabilitation.
Glucosamine increases the production of natural hyaluronic acid in joints as well which further help to strengthen them. Look for glucosamine in the purest and powdered form since it is the most bio available and efficient.