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Equine Joint Inflammation and Nutritional SupplementsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · September 12, 2016

When it comes to soundness, horse owners will often try to make informed decisions about joint supplements, even if their efficacy is difficult to prove.

“Products marketed for joint health are among the most popular equine nutritional supplements despite the fact that efficacy evidence of most commercially available products is lacking,” noted Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

Typical ingredients found in oral joint health supplements include one or more of the following:

In a recently published study* looking at the protective effects of oral joint health supplements, researchers used Standardbred horses and administered either a liquid, multi-ingredient joint supplement, a collagen-based supplement, meloxicam (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug similar to phenylbutazone), or a placebo for 28 to 60 days prior to the challenge. Joint inflammation, known as synovitis, was induced in one carpal joint of each horse. Lameness and select markers of cartilage breakdown and inflammation in synovial fluid were subsequently analyzed.

The key finding of the study was that both groups of horses receiving the joint supplement, as well as the group treated with meloxicam, had lower inflammation based on synovial fluid analysis than the placebo group.

In sum, the data showed that all three treatments had anti-inflammatory effects. Further, the supplements were administered prior to any insult to the joint, supporting the prophylactic administration of joint supplements prior to any trauma or joint damage. Finally, no adverse effects were noted following supplementation.

To get the most out of your nutritional supplement, select products produced by a reputable company. Manufacturers of high-quality products clearly list the ingredients and rely on scientific testing to prove the value of their products rather than simply testimonials.

“KER offers KER•Flex and Synovate HA to help maintain the health and integrity of the joint tissues, including the articular cartilage lining the ends of bones within joints,” Crandell added. “In Australia, horse owners should look to Glucos-A-Flex, a blend of glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, for joint support.”

*de Water, E.V., M. Oosterlinck, M. Dumoulin, et al. The preventive effect of two nutraceuticals on experimentally induced acute synovitis. Equine Veterinary Journal. In press.