Joint Supplements for Horses

Joint supplements explained - Joint supplements are products intended to provide nutrients to promote joint health. The purpose of joint supplements is to improve the quality of joint fluid by making it more viscous. This cushions the joint to prevent cartilage degeneration. I have experienced clinical success in many of my patients with joint supplements.

The purpose of joint supplements - Joint supplements are intended to prevent arthritis or prevent the progression of arthritis. They can be used when a horse has any condition leading to inflammation in a joint. Examples include: arthritic joints and joints that are stressed due to poor conformation, chronic lameness or injury. Joint supplements are also recommended for athletic animals that might be prone to arthritis due to heavy use of their joints.

Selecting a joint supplement - If you have already started shopping for a joint supplement you may be feeling overwhelmed. There are many different products on the market containing varying ingredients and dosages. Prices can also vary significantly. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA and less reputable companies often do not even meet the claims on their ingredient label. Use a source that you trust or chose a product that has a guaranteed analysis (by a 3rd party) of ingredients.

The most important ingredient in a joint supplement is glucosamine. This can be glucosamine sulfate or glucosamine HCL from a shellfish source. An effective dose is 6,000 to 10,000 mg/day. The 10,000 mg dose is needed for horses that are being worked. This higher level is also recommended as a loading dose for the first 2-4 weeks of treatment.

The second most important ingredient is chondroitin sulfate. An effective dose is between 1,250 and 5,000 mg/day. Recent research shows superior results when glucosamine and chondroitin are combined. Many products on the market contain both of these ingredients. You may find that a product contains both ingredients, but under the optimal dosages for either ingredient. I recommend choosing a product that supplies a full dose of glucosamine and as close to a correct dose of chondroitin as you can find.

Smartpak has a great comparison chart for joint supplements. There are many good products on the market. Two good products listed on this chart are Matrix 5+H/A by Med-Vet Pharmaceuticals and Absorbine Flex + Max.

Don't use joint supplements - If your horse has insulin resistance or Cushing’s disease they may not be able to take glucosamine products.