You can easily spend $3 a day putting your horse on a supercharged joint supplement. However, you may not need to do that.
There's really no sense in feeding-and paying for-ingredients that your horse doesn't need. Yes, of course, some horses truly do need the high-potency, multi-ingredient, high-priced supplements for best results. However, don't let a long ingredients list or high price make that decision for you or your horse. Let your individual horse tell you what works and what doesn't.
To help you sort through the dizzying array of options out there, we've divided this round of trial results into supplements that cost $1.25 or less per day at manufacturer's suggested maintenance dose and those that are higher.
Multiple ingredients and/or new ingredients tend to drive a product's cost up without necessarily providing more relief than old stand-by ingredients, like glucosamine. In this first article of our two-part series on joint nutraceuticals, we're going to focus on moderately priced products and how they performed in horses receiving a joint supplement for the first time.
Would Your Horse Benefit?
Like the prescription arthritis treatments of injectable hyaluronic acid or Legend, joint nutraceuticals are indicated for horses that have problems involving the joint cartilage or the lining of the joint, called the synovium.
Arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint. This often starts as irritation and thickening of the synovium and thinning of cartilage in areas that bear weight. The cartilage is the gristle-like substance that covers the ends of the bones at the joint. It cushions and protects the bone. The cartilage and joint fluid also allow for smooth, low friction movement of the joint.
The joint fluid in inflamed joints is often thinner and less lubricating than normal. Once cartilage begins to thin, there is less cushioning effect and the joint is more vulnerable to further thinning and damage during weight-bearing. The horse's natural repair processes have a difficult time keeping up with breakdown once this process starts. Oral joint supplements are most likely to have the greatest effect at the earlier stages of arthritis.
While there's no harm (except to your wallet) in trying a joint supplement if you think your horse will benefit, it's always best to involve your veterinarian in this decision. This will both confirm that arthritis is really the cause of any problems the horse might be having and help you decide if this is really the best type of treatment and what results you might expect.