Often, you’ll hear the term “loading dose,” especially when you’re dealing with a nutraceutical supplement (we’ve found it a necessity with joint supplements) or some medications. It’s not just a way for manufacturers to sell more product. Instead, the loading dose works with the systems in place in your horse’s body and speeds up the effect on your horse.
When the horse takes a nutrient or medication into his body, it travels from the intestinal cells to the blood stream and then on to the individual systems that need it. However, certain “binding sites” in the body may soak up the medication or supplement before it gets to the intended areas. This will continue until these binding-site tissues are saturated or “loaded” to their capacity, at which point the nutrient/medication can travel onto its intended sites. This process can take several days to complete.
To shorten this interval, it may be recommended the horse be given either a higher initial oral dose, or a combination of oral and intravenous/intramuscular dosing (where appropriate), in an attempt to “load” all the potential binding sites. Once loaded, the dosage can be dropped to a level that matches the rate with which the horse will eliminate or use the drug or nutrient — the “maintenance dose.”