Supplement Wisely

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My mare is on devil?s claw, glucosamine and MSM, and I always brace her legs with Sore No-More The Sauce after I ride. None of this is cheap, but it keeps her sound. SHe's 20 years old, and sHe's been a weaver all her life. SHe's literally destroying her body, although she doesn't know it.

She was sound when we bought her at the age of nine (no, we didn't know she was a weaver, as that question wasn?t answered honestly), but after years of weaving stress, the arthritis really began to set in. Had we known back then that glucosamine was more effective if given as a preventative than it is as a therapy, we'd have started it on Day 1.

But she makes it clear to us that sHe's not ready to retire, so we keep her going as best we can. I also have firocoxib, a prescription anti-inflammatory, on hand to give to her if she has an especially bad day. Yes, I involved my veterinarian. I wouldn?t dream of not doing that.

At the initial exam, he suggested Adequan, which we tried, although it didn't help. I was disappointed. As Contributing Veterinary Editor Dr. Grant Miller said in his September 2011 article on Adequan vs. Legend, the injectable joint products are actually cheaper in the long run than the oral joint supplements. (Of course, at the moment, Adequan is out of production, due to the manufacturing plant having to make changes required by the FDA. They expect to have it back on the market in March 2014. If you're using Adequan, talk with your veterinarian now about a substitute, as it's possible this shortage may cause other injectable joint meds to become scarce.)

The injectable products require a prescription, but nutraceuticals like devil?s claw, which has bute-like anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, do not. they're not even considered drugs. In fact, one of the reasons the word ?nutraceutical? was coined was because these ingredients weren?t nutrients (as in required by the body) and they weren?t pharmaceuticals because no manufacturer jumped through all the hoops necessary to be classified as a drug. That process is expensive, and the stuff is selling like hotcakes, so why would they' But could unsupervised access to pain relievers backfire'

Think of the poor soul, now dying from stomach cancer because he kept downing Pepto-Bismal for his bellyaches instead of seeking medical attention early enough to get effective treatment. Could a person detecting ?a little heat? in a horse's leg reach for devil?s claw without realizing heat is a subtle early warning of a potential bowed tendon'

As Dr. Miller says in his thyroid dysfunction story this month, we need to know what we're ?treating,? even with a supplement. Using something from the feed store ?just to see if it works? isn?t fair to our horses.

?Cynthia Foley, ?Editor-in-Chief