What is Horse Arthritis?
Horses, like humans are often susceptible to muscle and joint conditions arthritis. Arthritis in horses, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a degenerative joint disease that causes soreness, inflammation and joint pain.
This is an extremely painful, progressive disease that will continue to worsen. It tends to be very common in older horses and those with racing, dressage and performance careers. If left untreated, arthritis in horses can lead to severe disability. However, it is manageable and your horse can continue to enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life.
The common symptoms and signs of equine arthritis include:
- Swollen joints
- Joints that are warm to the touch
- Decreased range of motion
- Joint pain
- Lameness or limping after exercising
- Difficulty moving the joint
- Change in horse’s overall attitude or demeanor
What Causes Horse Arthritis?
This condition develops when the cartilage surrounding the joint changes, breaks down slowly and deteriorates as a result of wear and tear*. The cartilage actually erodes together with areas of bone.
The most common areas of the body that are affected include the inside of the joints as well as surrounding joints such as the upper knee joint, front fetlocks, hocks and coffin joints in the front feet.
There are several causes of horse arthritis and these include:
- Impact trauma
- Old age
- Hereditary defects such as hip dysplasia, navicular, osteochondrosis (OCD), and osteochondritis
- Poor conformation
- Nutritional or mineral deficiency
Diagnosing Horse Arthritis
The diagnosis of horse arthritis is based on the symptoms, thorough physical examination which involves observation of the horse’s gait and a review of his medical history. Certain diagnostic tests such as x-rays, ultrasound and joint fluid analysis may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Help for Horse Arthritis
Treatment depends on the severity of the horse arthritis and overall health of the horse. If symptoms are mild, stall rest and applying ice packs on the affected area can help to reduce inflammation.
Certain medications such as dimethyl sulfoxide and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (naproxen) may be applied topically, injected or given orally to minimize pain, swelling and inflammation. In more severe cases, surgery may be required to fuse joints together.
Natural and holistic treatments and horse supplements for joints have been found to be highly effective in supporting the joints and skeletal system as well as overall health of your horse. Homeopathic ingredients are a safe and gentle alternative without any unwanted side effects.
Carefully selected ingredients such as Apis, Rhus tox, Ferrum phos and Nat phos support muscle and joint health and help to relieve symptoms such as pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation. In addition, Arnica and Calc fluor have also proven to be beneficial in the treatment of degenerative joint diseases.
More Information on Horse Arthritis
Tips to manage horse arthritis
Although horse arthritis is painful and causes discomfort, there are a number of things that owners can do to alleviate the symptoms:
- Feed your horse an all natural diet that contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
- Manage your horse’s weight by controlling his diet – if your horse is overweight, it puts more strain on their joints and exacerbates symptoms
- Steer clear of strenuous activities that involves lots of running but make sure that your horse participates in gentle exercise – turn your horse out to graze and amble
- Equine joint supplements with glucosamine can strengthen and support healthy joints and alleviate pain and inflammation
- Visit a good farrier for proper shoeing and trimming of hooves
- Avoid overworking young horses to prevent degenerative joint disease in later years
- Use boot wraps on your horse to promote circulation and in turn, relieve symptoms
- Ensure that your horse has sufficient rest
- Massage your horse or perform gentle in-hand exercise on the affected area to soothe and promote range of movement
- Take your horse to an equine pool, which can benefits joints and limbs with horse arthritis