Arthritis in Horses

Arthritis is a common problem among horses, especially those in their older years. It’s a joint disease in which the joints become inflamed and damage to the cartilage within the joints causes pain. Arthritis tends to get worse over time, and so various remedies are used to try and slow its progress and to manage pain levels in the horse. There are many supplements that are added to horse feed designed to help as can altering their exercise routine. The last resort is the use of medication such as anti-inflammatories and pain relief. Read on to find out more about arthritis, how to diagnose it and how it can be managed. 

How Is It Diagnosed?

If you notice your horse is showing signs of stiffness or lameness and exercise doesn’t seem to help, or if there is swelling or heat around certain joints, it’s possible your horse may be suffering from arthritis. 

How Is It Managed?

There is little evidence to suggest arthritis in horses can be prevented or cured, however, there are ways that you may be able to manage the associated pain that your horse suffers with. By keeping an eye on your horse’s weight, you may be able to reduce the extra strain put on his or her joints. There are certain ways that you could manage your horse’s weight to reduce the stress on their joints such as gentle exercise (depending on the location and severity of the arthritis) and their diet. Swimming has increased in popularity for horses as a way of exercising without placing too much strain on joints. It’s important when your horse has been diagnosed with arthritis that you discuss a training and exercise plan with your vet. This way you can tailor your horse’s activities to suit him or her.  

horse feed

What Medication Should Be Used?

Alongside managing your horse’s arthritis, certain medication and supplements can also be given to help. Your vet may suggest the use of joint supplements for maintaining your horse’s arthritis and keep him or her comfortable. Your vet may also suggest certain drugs that may possibly help reduce the pain associated with arthritis allowing your horse to move more freely and comfortably. There are also more invasive options that may be suggested by your vet where medication is injected directly into the joints, however, this depends on the severity and location of the problem. 

Takeaway

An arthritis diagnosis is not always the end of your horses riding career; with pain management and medical attention, some horses are able to enjoy their life and continue with their riding careers for years to come. If you believe your horse is suffering from arthritis, seek the advice of your vet for options on how to potentially treat and manage the pain.