Arthritis in Horses

Arthritis in Horses

In the world of equine health, arthritis plays a significant yet often overlooked role. Just like humans, horses experience joint discomfort that needs attention. Understanding and treating arthritis in horses is vital for their quality of life. From subtle changes in movement to visible signs of discomfort, it's crucial to recognise the symptoms. Exploring supplements for managing equine arthritis is essential. We'll also delve into factors like age, injuries, and genetic predispositions that contribute to its development.


Symptoms and signs of joint inflammation and arthritis in horses 

As responsible horse owners, it's crucial to spot arthritis symptoms early. Watch for stiffness, lameness, or difficulty transitioning, indicating joint discomfort. Swelling around joints is another telltale sign. Keep an eye on any behavioural changes like decreased performance or irritability. Being vigilant allows for early intervention, ensuring your horse's comfort and well-being. You can consider a supplement to support joint health and mobility.


How is arthritis diagnosed?

Diagnosing equine arthritis entails a joint effort between owners and vets. Vets conduct thorough exams, assessing gait, mobility, and joint condition. Imaging like X-rays or MRI scans reveal internal joint structures, aiding in diagnosis. Joint fluid analysis, obtained via arthrocentesis, helps detect inflammation or infection. Owners play a crucial role by observing their horse's behaviour and promptly reporting concerns. Following vet recommendations for tests and treatment ensures comprehensive care. Effective communication and collaboration between owners and vets are vital for managing equine arthritis successfully.

Medication for arthritis in horses 

Pharmaceutical interventions for equine arthritis management encompass various medications tailored to specific needs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like phenylbutazone or firocoxib alleviate pain and inflammation, typically administered orally or via injection. Disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs) such as polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAGs) or hyaluronic acid help preserve joint integrity and reduce cartilage degradation. Proper dosage, administration methods, and regular monitoring for side effects are crucial considerations. Additionally, integrating complementary therapies and adjusting medication regimens based on individual responses enhance overall treatment efficacy in alleviating equine arthritis symptoms.


Supplements for Horse Arthritis

There are many supplements available on the market, which can make it overwhelming for horse owners to understand which is right for them. You can consult your vet to evaluate their condition and dietary requirements. Select a form preferred by the horse and ensure proper feeding rate is aligned with their weight and ensure you feed according to the all directions.

Some supplements on the market for arthritis include:


Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

  • MSM is a sulfur compound that may contribute to joint flexibility and reduce inflammation.

Hyaluronic Acid

  • Hyaluronic acid helps lubricate joints and is often used to improve joint mobility and reduce stiffness.


  • Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric or curcumin supplements may help alleviate arthritis-related inflammation.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Found in fish oil or flaxseed, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may aid in managing arthritis symptoms.


  • Vitamins such as E and C, along with selenium, act as antioxidants that may help protect joint tissues from damage.

Green-Lipped Mussel

  • This supplement is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit horses with arthritis.

Daily care for horses with arthritis

Holistic approaches to managing arthritis in horses encompass a spectrum of lifestyle adjustments aimed at enhancing overall well-being.

  • Gentle Exercise: Maintain a gentle regimen of walking and light trotting to promote joint mobility without causing discomfort.

  • Ample Turnout: Provide sufficient time in a safe pasture environment to encourage natural movement and alleviate stiffness.

  • Comfortable Environment: Modify the stable with supportive bedding and easy access to food and water.

  • Regular Hoof Care: Keep hooves trimmed regularly to promote proper weight distribution and reduce joint strain.

  • Nutritional Support: Provide a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, including joint-specific supplements recommended by a vet.

  • Temperature Control: Maintain a comfortable barn temperature and use blankets as needed to alleviate stiffness in colder weather.

  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule routine check-ups to monitor the horse's condition and adjust management strategies accordingly.

By incorporating these holistic approaches and lifestyle adjustments, along with appropriate supplementation into the care routine of arthritic horses, owners can help manage symptoms effectively and improve their overall quality of life.

If you have any specific queries or you’d like more information on supporting a horse with arthritis you can email us at or call our equine specialists on  028 9037 2510. 

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