Aging Horses and Arthritis

Over the last several decades advances in management, nutrition, and veterinary medicine have caused to our horse population to live longer. Many horses now survive into their 30’s. As horses age, their joints are susceptible to developing arthritis from all the physical activity they have engaged in throughout their lifetime. Although there is no solution to eradicate arthritis, there are many options to choose from when it comes to managing this condition in older horses.

Are Older Horses More Prone to Arthritis?

According to Kentucky Performance Products, arthritis “is a degeneration of the articular surfaces of the joint caused by inflammation.” It can be present  in horses of all ages but is often discovered more frequently in older horses. Inflammation is created from the the work the joints participate over the course of a horse’s life. Aging horses often lose the “spring” in their joints and tendons as cell turnover decreases with each passing year.

These alterations in older horses ability to absorb impact and force, can increase the likelihood of issues with the joint. For example, trauma does cause joint information. How a horse’s body is constructed can also result in joint damage such as misalignments and pressure points. Previous problems with the joints can also contribute to older horses contracting arthritis.

The main priority in managing and treating arthritis is diagnosing it early and taking measures immediately to limit inflammation.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Signs older horses may be suffering from arthritis include:

  • Small changes how horses may move, such as a shortened stride, odd lifting of their heads or a “swaybacked” appearance
  • No desire to engage in activity that was frequent in the past
  • Stiffness in the early stages of exercise
  • Heat, swelling or pain in or around the joint.

What Can Be Done to help Older Horses with Arthritis?

Naturally, the first step is to contact your veterinarian so they can determine if your older horse is indeed suffering from arthritis. Your veterinarian can then recommend a treatment plan tailored to your horse’s individual requirements and situation.

There are, however, other steps you can take at home to help your horse and manage his or her discomfort:

  • Feed older horses a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally anti-inflammatory, while omega-6 acids tend to increase inflammation.
  • Use joint supplements. Research has shown several substances such as hyaluronan aid in preserving joint health.
  • Give your horse vitamin E to support their immune system and preserve their overall health.
  • Medication for pain relief may irritate your horse’s stomach. Make sure to give your horse a product that will prevent ulcers.
  • Keep your horse at an optimal weight and exercise them frequently.
  • Work closely with your veterinarian to receive the best results of your treatment program.

As horses’ life spans continue to increase and allow us to enjoy them for a much longer time, it is essential to treat any physical issues, such as arthritis, that may present themselves as they age. Incorporating all these tips and tactics ensures older horses will not suffer from what can be a painful, debilitating condition.

Visit us at Nature’s Tails today, to purchase our all-natural LubriSyn supplement that is one of the premium products available for older horses with arthritis. Your horse will thank you for it!


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