Looking for a joint supplement for your beloved horse can be tough – there is a variety of options out there and a lot of questions you have to ask yourself (powder, liquid or pellet? MSM or HA? Budget?). We’re going to go over a few key factors in making a decision on a joint supplement for your horse.
First, you want to look at what active ingredients the product offers. While there can be a variety of ingredients found in equine joint supplements, there are a few key players in most supplements found on the market today. Keep in mind that a joint supplement can contain one, a few or none of these ingredients – it’s important to research what the supplement offers.
- Glucosamine Sulfate: This is a naturally occurring chemical found in the fluid surrounding joints – it’s responsible for the manufacturing of cartilage, ligaments and tendons. It’s been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects and is crucial to the development and maintenance of joints. Glucosamine Sulfate is the most readily absorbed ingredient in joint supplements due to the small molecular size.
- Chondroitin Sulfate: This compound is found in the cartilage surrounding the joint – it acts as a flexible connector in cartilage. It also helps neutralize destructive enzymes in the cartilage. Where glucosamine helps build the cartilage, chondroitin helps to slow the degradation of it. However, due to the large molecular size chondroitin is harder for the body to absorb.
- Hyaluronic Acid: This is found in the fluid surrounding the joints. HA helps to thicken the fluid to around the joints for added protection and lubrication. A joint supplement with HA would be beneficial to a senior horse, since natural HA production slows with age.
- MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane): A readily usable form of sulfur which is necessary for the production of collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin as well as the formation of the connective tissue. MSM is proven to be beneficial to horses with arthritis but it can also helps in preventing scar tissue from forming so horses with injuries might find this beneficial as well.
- Yucca: Plant that is found in The Southwest US and Mexico which is believed to have natural pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. This product isn’t specific to joint supplements, but is still often found in many of those on the market today.
It’s also important to consider why you are looking at putting your horse on a joint supplement. Is it because of arthritis, injury, age or a combination of factors? Or are you trying to take a preventative step towards the care of your horse’s joints? Most companies target their supplement to a specific cause – so be sure to look for that.
Joint supplements also come in a variety of substances – all of which have their benefits. The biggest factor that I consider when choosing between different formulas is how good of an eater the horse is. If your horse will eat pretty much anything, then you could go with any of the options. However, if the horse is a picky eater, going with a liquid or powder would most likely be the best option. All of the supplements are easy to feed as a top dressing to your horse’s grain. If your horse doesn’t receive a grain ration on a regular basis, the pelleted joint supplements would be a good option because they can be fed on their own.
As always, we recommend consulting with a licensed veterinarian about your horse’s specific case before starting them on a supplement.
What joint supplement do you use? And what do you like about it? Let us know!