For relief from the inflammation, stiffness and pain of arthritis and degenerative joint disease (DJD), equine glucosamine supplements given in combination with chondroitin sulfate to horses accelerates renewal of damaged joint cartilage. In addition, the chondroitin supports glucosamine’s ability to neutralize harmful enzymes that contribute to DJD and arthritis.
Degenerative joint disease commonly affects horses in their middle to later years. An inflammatory disorder occurring due to excessive wear and tear on a horse’s lower leg joints, DJD has no cure and can lead to lameness if not treated in a timely manner. The cause of DJD stems from horses that consistently train on unyielding surfaces, are subjected to excessive training practices or have experience an infection or trauma in and surrounding the joint.
Alternately, horses diagnosed with DJD could carry a gene responsible for expressing abnormal formation of cartilage or poor conformation. Horses that develop DJD from a genetic disorder may not benefit much from equine glucosamine supplements because of the inherent nature of the disease.
However, when a horse’s joints experience biomechanical forces such as vigorous, repetitive exercises year after year, knee and hip joints begin releasing destructive enzymes that target cartilage by weakening its ability to cushion joints and prevent bone erosion. Joint cartilage is unable to regenerate because cartilage cells are comprised of proteins and chondrocytes, two chemicals that once destroyed, cannot reproduce.
Providing equine glucosamine supplements to a horse suffering from DJD and/or arthritis not only strengthens cartilage but also replenishes the joint’s synovial fluid, also important in lubricating joints and preventing joint erosion. Glucosamine is produced within the horse’s body as a form of sugar that develops from combining glutamine and glucose together. As a horse ages, the amount of glucosamine production naturally decreases. When coupled with regular, excessive stress on joints, the probability that the horse will develop degenerative joint disease is high.
A horse exhibiting signs of stiffness, swollen joints and pain may be diagnosed with another type of arthritis called bone spavin. This disease results in inflammation of one or more of the bones constituting the hock, a joint similar in construction and use to the human ankle. More specifically, bone spavin causes the small bones inside the hock to lock up and become stationary, dramatically inhibiting the ability of a horse to gallop or even walk. Adding ten or more grams of equine glucosamine to a horse’s diet along with resting the horse as much as possible often leads to the majority of horses recovering from a bout of bone spavin.
The best method to prevent a horse from developing DJD or other inflammatory bone diseases is to remain vigilant of symptoms such as swelled joints, temperament changes, gait changes and shoulder/back soreness in order to get the horse treated immediately. In addition, owners can start giving their horse equine glucosamine supplements before arthritis has a chance to develop, especially if the horse is a performance horse and engages in rigorous training practices. Be aware that preventing DJD is much easier than dealing with a potentially debilitating disease that could leave a horse permanently lame.