Middle Age Age: 5 To 15 Years
- Maintain good condition
- Insist on good farriery
- Provide periods of rest as needed
Once your horse is mature and trained, protecting his joints from arthritis is all about consistency. For starters, its important to keep him in good physical condition, without lapses in fitness, if possible.
When we are talking about protecting a joint, its important to understand that the rest of the horses body is a support system for that joint, says Markell. The muscles and tendons and ligaments that surround a joint all work together to keep the structure stable. Without fitness, which brings strength and stability, it will move abnormally, and that leads to arthritis. So think of keeping the entire body in shape when youre thinking of joints.
Of course, active horses need periods of rest every now and again. A day of rest after a longer-than-usual trail ride or weekend of heavy showing will give your horses body a chance to repair any minor damage and quell the inflammatory process. You certainly need to rest a horse who is fatigued or injured, says Markell. And a week or two off isnt going to be a problem, particularly if the horse has regular turnout. But what you want to avoid is really prolonged periods of inactivity.
Whatever your horses activity level, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about the preventive use of supplements that contain such ingredients as glucosamine, chondroitin or avocado soybean unsaponifiables .
Dont: Overlook Hoof Care
Proper hoof care is key to helping arthritic horses stay sound and comfortable in work.
It is essential that the feet are well-balanced to ensure even weight-loading through the joints, Jarvis says. Long toes and collapsed heels also put unnecessary strain on the joints, ligaments, and tendons, so regular trims are required and can ease breakover , promoting soundness in the long run.
Your veterinarian and farrier might even recommend special shoeing to reduce impact on your horses joints.
When Joint Supplements Need A Boost
Joint supplements target cartilage breakdown and inflammatory responses in general. This makes them of some use in almost all horses, but there’s more to arthritis, especially advanced arthritis, that can severely limit how well the horse responds. Limited response can be expected in the following circumstances:
- Horses with stresses on the joints caused by poor conformation or improperly trimmed and balanced feet.
- Horses with structural instability in the joint. This includes tears in the joint capsule, the ligaments supporting the sides of the joints, small ligaments between bones in the hock or knee joint, and damage to the menisci or the “X” shaped internal stabilizing cruciate ligaments in the stifle.
- Joints where cartilage loss is so extensive that the joint space is abnormally narrow on X-rays.
- Joints with development of osteophytes/bone spurs , or with diffuse proliferation of bone .
Joint Supplements For as long as joint supplements have been around, you’d think we would have a lot of good scientific information available about them, but that’s just not the case. Even in the human medicine field, where more research money is available, we still have gaps in information. In horses, only two products have actually been tested by formal scientific studies-Nutramax’s Cosequinâ¢ and Equine America’s Corta-Flxâ¢.
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Old Age Age: 15 Or More Years
- Be alert for the first signs of trouble
- Start treatments early
- Allow as much activity as possible
Signs of arthritis are very common in horses over age 15. After a lifetime of work, even one that didnt involve strenuous exercise, its almost inevitable that a horses joints will develop some degree of stiffness. Arthritis in an older horse can be managed most effectively when it is identified and addressed early.
Dont wait for outright lameness to start looking for arthritis, says Trachtenberg. Most of the time, the first sign is a decline in performance or a change in behavior. If he suddenly wont swap leads behind or seems crabby, its probably because his joints hurt. Trachtenberg recommends a lameness examination for any horse who suddenly develops performance or attitude problems.
And, of course, a thorough exam is needed when an older horse develops actual lameness. Mistaking arthritis for another issue can lead to some bad decisions that make the situation worse, says Trachtenberg. You need to restrict exercise in horses with soft-tissue injuries, but with arthritis you need to keep them moving. So if you assume an older horse has a suspensory injury, but really hes got arthritis, youll put him on stall rest and only aggravate the real problem. Trachtenberg adds that the footsoreness of chronic laminitis can also be mistaken for arthritis.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #429.
Do: Work With Your Veterinarian To Provide Appropriate Support
Not surprisingly, the treatment thats best-suited for a particular horse depends on a number of factors, Jarvis says.
The options will vary dependent on how many joints are affected by OA, the severity of the condition, concurrent conditions, and, of course, budgetary restrictions, she says.
Intra-articular medications , either to support the joint or to directly reduce inflammation, can be useful if only one or two joints are affected by OA or to treat a horse during a flare-up, she adds.
If the arthritis is more widespread, however, veterinarians often recommend a systemic oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication , such as phenylbutazone or firocoxib . How frequently you should administer medications and at what dose depends on the horse your veterinarian will review administration instructions with you when he or she prescribes the medication. Dont change the dose or frequency without checking with your vet.
A word of caution: Remember that the chronic use of NSAIDs can result in gastric ulcers, Malinowski says.
If your veterinarian recommends an NSAID, ask if he or she also recommends a gastric support product to help reduce the drugs effects on the stomach lining.
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Prognosis Of Equine Arthritis
The earlier in the course of the disease treatment is initiated, the better the chances of a successful resolution. If sepsis has been present for 14 days or more, the chances of successful long term resolution are low. Even if the infection is controlled, cartilage damage may be severe enough to render the horse chronically lame.
Dealing With Arthritis In Senior Horses
Over the past couple of decades improved management, nutrition, and veterinary care have contributed to increase longevity in todays horse population. It is not unusual to hear of horses living well into their thirties. As horses age, the wear and tear of a lifetime of activity takes its toll on joints, leading to the development of arthritis. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are ways we can keep older horses more comfortable.
What is arthritis and why are older horses more susceptible?
Arthritis is a degeneration of the articular surfaces of the joint caused by inflammation. It can occur in horses of any age but is more commonly found in older horses. Inflammation caused by constant wear and tear over time leads to an erosion of joint structures. Older horses tend to lose some of the elasticity in their tendons and ligaments, and aging leads to increased cell death in fibrous tissues, causing a thinning of the joint cartilage.
Such changes reduce your horses natural shock absorbing capabilities and result in increased trauma to the joint. This trauma results in joint inflammation. Conformation and use can play a role in changing the shape of the joint. The development of uneven joint surfaces in older joints leads to misalignments and pressure points within the joint where inflammation is amplified. Past joint injuries and infections can also predispose a horse to developing arthritis.
Symptoms to watch for:
Determine the extent of the problem.
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Considerations When Your Performance Horse Starts Showing Signs Of Wear
Lets start with the good news: In general, horses are living longer and staying active later in their lives than ever. This means we have more quality time with and rides on our beloved equine partners.
The bad news? As horsesparticularly sport horsesage, they begin to suffer from related health issues. One of the most common is osteoarthritis , which can make those rides uncomfortable for horses.
But theres more good news: We can take steps to help keep horses moving and even competing as long as possible.
We asked two authorities on older horse care for their tips on conditioning horses with osteoarthritis. Nicola Jarvis, BVetMed, Cert. AVP , MRCVS, a senior veterinary surgeon at Redwings Horse Sanctuary, in Hapton, Norfolk, U.K., and Karyn Malinowski, MS, PhD, professor and founding director at the Rutgers Equine Science Center, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, offer exercise, management, and veterinary intervention recommendations to help these horses perform to the best of their abilities.
Caring For Your Arthritic Horse
There are many ways you can support your horses joint health to ease the discomfort of osteoarthritis. Appropriate exercise, nutrition, medication and adjunct therapies can help your arthritic horse to remain mobile and comfortable.
Early detection and treatment improve the prognosis for this condition. If your horses osteoarthritis is well-managed, symptoms can be controlled and lameness may be prevented.
Make sure your horse is at a healthy body condition, receives regular hoof care and eats a forage-rich diet with balanced mineral and vitamin content.
Wondering which supplements and feeds will work best for your horse? Submit your horses diet for analysis online and our nutritionists can provide personalized recommendations.
If your horse is prescribed NSAIDs, ask your veterinarian about COX-2 selective drugs which are less likely to cause gut problems.
You can also explore treatment options such as joint injections, topical medications, acupuncture and chiropractic therapy for horses that require additional support.
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Biologics: Above And Beyond
Several types of biologic products usually produced from the horses own tissues by use of specialized equipment and methodology are increasing in popularity as horse owners and veterinarians seek treatment options to improve joint health and maximize the horses athletic lifespan.
IRAP is produced by incubating the horses blood with specialized glass beads for 24 hours to activate release of beneficial inhibitory cytokines. These cytokines are cell-signaling molecules that exert anti-inflammatory effects by targeting interleukin-1, an important initiator of the inflammatory cascade. Intra-articular administration has been shown to have both disease- and symptom-modifying effects. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study, treated horses showed significant improvement in lameness scores and less pathologic changes of synovium and articular cartilage.
PRP is produced by centrifugation of the horses own blood to separate the platelet-rich portion from the remainder of plasma and red blood cells. Platelets contain growth factors that are important for soft tissue healing and provide additional benefit to joint and cartilage health. Multiple commercial processing systems are available, with each producing different concentrations of platelets and white blood cells.
Do: Embrace Exercise But Plan Workouts Carefully
It might seem counterintuitive but, indeed, keeping an arthritic horse moving and exercising is in most cases preferable to letting him turn into a pasture puff.
Maintaining muscle mass around the affected joint helps to stabilize , preventing joint laxity and abnormal loading, Jarvis says, which can lead to additional soundness issues.
However, its important to exercise the arthritic horse in scenarios that will promote longevity, rather than place him at undue risk for more joint pain, based on the severity of his disease.
It is important that the exercise is tailored to the individual horse after consulting your vet, Jarvis says. Exercise can range from daily walks in hand to a gentle hack, but all should be accompanied by a warmup and cool-down.
Malinowski agrees, suggesting a slow and lengthy warmup at the walk before progressing to the trot and canter. Give your horse walk breaks as needed, and encourage correct movement and balanced gaits. Also, be sure he is moving well and comfortably before beginning more complex tasks.
The horse should be moving freely before moving on to higher level movements, like dressage or reining or jumping, she adds.
Other considerations to remember:
Adds Jarvis, Once OA is more advanced, simply pottering about in a level, paddock is helpful for the aged horse.
Exercise can range from daily walks in hand to a gentle hack, but all should be accompanied by a warmup and cool-down.
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Is My Horse At Risk
Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that affect performance and pleasure horses. In fact, arthritis is believed to be responsible for up to 60% of all lameness. The joints most often affected by arthritis include the knee, fetlock, coffin, hock, and pastern .
A 1999 study published in the Equine Veterinary Journal identified arthritic changes in a herd of wild mustangs, which led the researchers to conclude that arthritis was a natural part of the aging process in horses. In essence, this means that its not just horses in heavy work that are at riskall horses are at risk for developing arthritis, even those in light work or no work at all. While all horses are susceptible to developing arthritis, there are some factors that can increase your horses risk, including consistent stress from riding, acute injury, and poor conformation. Senior horses are also more likely to show arthritic changes. While there is no sure-fire way of preventing arthritis altogether, there are steps you can take to help keep your horse going strong for as long as possible.
Supplements That Support Healthy Joints
When it comes to supporting healthy joints, many veterinarians agree that there is a role for both prescription joint medications and oral joint supplements. While prescription medications are designed to help reduce inflammation and treat the signs of joint problems, oral joint supplements provide key ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid to offer daily support for healthy joint fluid and tissues. In fact, an eight-year study demonstrated that the use of an oral glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate supplement resulted in the decreased need for IA hock injections to maintain soundness in a group of hunter/jumper show horses. While this particular study refers to the injection of hyaluronic acid and/or steroids directly into the joint, the researchers findings support the general idea that there is a place for both prescription injectables and daily oral supplements when it comes to maintaining your horses joint health.
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Previcox For Horses With Joint Issues
Should I go for Previcox or not? Is Pervicox safe for the horses or not? I bet most of the horse keepers might have answered these two and a hundred other similar questions several times. Previcox has been used to treat a medical condition called osteoarthritis for several years but it has still not been legalized to cure any other animal except dogs. Despite the warning, the invention of Equioxx, and mixed reviews, it still has been recommended by the vets.
In this article, we would be discussing what Pervicox is? the generic name, What exactly is it for? How does it cure the disease? How long does it take to show results? Its side effects, suggested dosage, and everything else horse keepers need to know.
What Causes Arthritis In Horses
Despite often being referred to as a disease arthritis cant be caught, instead, there are two main causes of it:
- Wear and tear This is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by trauma to a joint, either caused by an injury or after years of being worked. As with us, years of repetitive movement will cause wear and tear to the joint that can lead to arthritis. While this is common in a lot of horses certain sports, such as jumping can increase the risk. This is due to the recurring impact on the joints.
- Inflammation Known as septic arthritis, this is actually a bacterial infection that is caused by a wound or injury. The symptoms are similar to that of arthritis caused by wear and tear but are normally restricted to one place. Being caused by bacteria means that it can be, and regularly is, treated.
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Prevention Of Joint Problems
There is no fail-safe way to prevent arthritis in your horse, but there are steps you can take to help slow the progression of deterioration and keep your horse sound.
Chiropractic & Acupuncture Therapy
Acupuncture and chiropractic therapy may be helpful in managing mild to moderate joint osteoarthritis in horses, according to Dr. James D. Kenney, DVM, a consulting veterinarian at the New Jersey Equine Clinic in Millstone, New Jersey.
Dr. Kenney says, they are helpful modalities for compensatory upper body soreness and chronic pain.
He notes that other modalities, such as Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field therapies like the Magna Wave, along with topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, topical capsaicin, and laser therapy also appear to be helpful.
Dr. Kenney adds that these therapies are a complement to conventional and routine veterinary care, not a replacement. Adjunct treatments help with the overall management of a horse living with osteoarthritis, but are not a cure for the condition.
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