We all want to help our horses stay active longer, and that includes learning how to prevent and treat lameness. Lameness is common in horses and can be the result of many causes.
Recent estimates indicate up to 60% of lameness problems in horses are associated with arthritis, making it the most common cause of lameness in horses. In aging horses, lameness is often cited as the #1 concern identified by owners and veterinarians.
If I diagnose your horse with arthritis, I may recommend a treatment approach that includes a medication called Adequan. Adequan is a brand name for polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG). Adequan not only treats the symptoms of arthritis but it has been shown to proactively treat the disease by encouraging the production of joint fluid and hindering the enzymes responsible for cartilage breakdown. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce the swelling and discomfort associated with arthritis.
Commonly diagnosed as degenerative joint disease (DJD), equine arthritis is a painful disease characterized by progressive deterioration of the joint cartilage and changes in bone and soft tissues of the joint. Early symptoms of DJD in horses can include swollen joints, lameness that causes limping or reduced performance, decreased range of motion, stiffness when leaving the stall or starting work, and subtle changes in your horse’s overall demeanor.
Joint cartilage is a highly specialized connective tissue in a horse’s joints that helps bones glide smoothly over one another. Cartilage is prone to progressive deterioration over time because it’s subjected to daily wear and tear with every move your horse makes. Joint cartilage contains no blood vessels, lymphatics, or nerves so it has a limited capacity to heal and repair itself. Once your horse’s cartilage wears away completely, it cannot be restored. It’s easy to see why it’s so important to maintain healthy cartilage in your horse’s joints!
While a 2-year-old horse is not very likely to experience DJD, all horse owners need to identify and manage factors that can lead to arthritis. Some ways to help stave off arthritis as long as possible in your horse include:
- Maintain a healthy weight on your horse
- Encourage regular movement and exercise in your horse
- Provide balanced nutrition, especially during your horse’s growth phase
- Allow time for appropriate cooling of your horse after exercise
- Understand and watch for the signs of potential joint issues in your horse
- Work with Dells Equine Vet to diagnose and treat joint disease issues early
Adequan can be effective in managing arthritis symptoms in horses. However, it might be just one component of a comprehensive treatment plan we develop for your horse. I may recommend a combination of medications, supplements, and lifestyle modifications to optimize your horse's well-being and manage arthritis effectively.
Schedule an appointment today to discuss treatment options for your horse’s arthritis or joint discomfort issues. Winter is a great time to have these types of conversations!