What About Joint Supplements?

Horse owners often ask about these, so here are some basics that hoof-care professionals should know

A recent search of a popular Internet farm and livestock supply site1 returned more than 90 product hits for joint supplements.

Given that degenerative joint disease (DJD) causes an estimated 60% of lameness in horses,2 the popularity of oral joint supplements is not surprising. Confronted with this bewildering array of pastes, powders, pellets and liquids, horse owners often turn to equine professionals from veterinarians to trainers and farriers for guidance through the maze.

Pouring something into a horse’s feed feels more convenient and less stressful for many horse owners than pursuing surgery for a diseased joint or injection of the joint by the veterinarian.

Supplements are also perceived as “natural,” and some horse owners may feel that these products are safer for their horse than traditional pharmaceuticals such as phenylbutazone (bute).

But, how well do these products work? How can owners pick the right product for their horse from the legions of buckets and bottles on the shelves, catalogs and Internet? Is feeding a supplement more cost-effective in the long run than more aggressive therapies? What research has been done on these products? How do owners know what they are buying?

These questions may be at the back of a client’s mind when he or she asks a farrier for advice or opinion, and 
they may dog the farrier trying to give a horse owner relevant advice.

Joint Review

At its most basic level, a joint in the body is any meeting of two or more bone ends. Synovial joints…

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Christy Corp-Minamiji DMV

Christy Corp-Minamiji is a freelance writer and former large animal veterinary practitioner. She lives in Northern California.

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