30 Jul 2022

Supporting your arthritic senior with Elite Equine

Just like their human riders, horses can develop arthritis in their senior years. Arthritis is a type of degeneration of the articular surfaces of the joint, typically caused by inflammation. Over time, horses put wear and tear on their joints, especially those that perform competitively. As horses reach their senior years, their bodies are not able to repair themselves as effectively as in years past, resulting in issues like chronic arthritis.

If your horse has developed arthritis, you may be wondering what the future holds. Here’s a closer look at the progression of arthritis in senior horses and how best to support a horse that has developed this condition.

What is arthritis?

Osteoarthritis involves the breakdown of the cushioning cartilage found at the ends of bones that have joints. Along with the breakdown and loss of cartilage, there is also a loss of lubricating joint fluid, resulting in a less cushioned impact during movement. In time, arthritis can lead to joint pain and lameness in horses.

What are the symptoms of arthritis in horses?

Horses with arthritis may experience a range of symptoms, such as:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness
  • Heat in the affected joints
  • Joint inflammation
  • Bony growths

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis in senior horses can have a variety of causes but the main component involved in this condition is wear and tear of the flexible, shock-absorbing tissue between the bones. Arthritis most commonly develops in weight-bearing joints, such as the legs, but stress or injury to any joint can lead to arthritis. Engaging in certain sports such as jumping, reining, and racing can make a horse more susceptible to arthritis in certain joints.

How Is arthritis diagnosed and treated in horses?

If you believe that your horse has arthritis, it is important to get him diagnosed by a vet. Your vet will perform a thorough medical exam and look over the animal’s health and medical records. During the exam, your vet may check the body condition based on the animal’s weight, blood pressure, body temperature, respiration rate, and pulse. Radiographs may also be needed to look for the thickening of the tissues around the cartilage, inflammation in the joints, and a reduction of space in the joints.

Treatment for arthritis is dependent on several factors, such as the cause of the condition. If your horse has developed arthritis due to an accident or trauma to the joints, your vet may suggest physical therapy and lots of rest. In some cases, a cold-water treatment can help loosen up the joints. If the arthritis is linked to an infection, your vet should immediately prescribe antibiotics. Osteoarthritis is often treated with NSAIDs, such as ketoprofen, but NSAID side effects can include gut disturbance and ulcers. Physical therapy and corticosteroids may also be recommended. Surgery may be needed as a last resort.

Ways to Support Your Senior Horse’s Joints

  1. Regular vet care

Ensure that your senior horse receives routine vet care to monitor their joints and overall health. Remember that older horses tend to require more consistent care due to their aging joints and length of wear and tear.

  1. Warm up slowly

Senior horses are often stiff upon the onset of activity. Although senior horses should engage in physical exercise, start slowly with a gentle warm-up. Help your horse perform stretches to ease muscular tightness in the limbs.

  1. Joint supplements

One of the best things you can do for your senior horse is to provide a joint supplement. Joint supplements are designed to reduce inflammation and promote joint health. Elite Equine is an example of a natural, pure rosehip joint supplement for horses.

Shop Elite Equine

Elite Equine is an organic joint supplement that offers anti-inflammatory benefits for healthy joint and cartilage support. Consisting solely of pure, dried rosehip, Elite Equine is an excellent alternative to NSAID use at it has no known side effects and will not contribute to ulcers. High in antioxidants and vitamin C, rosehip can help support the immune system and reduce painful inflammation. Contact Elite Equine today to see if an organic rosehip supplement is right for your senior horse.