Arthritis horses is also called Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). The term is self explanatory.
This condition is the direct result of the inflammation that arises due to progressive wear and tear of the joints in horses.
As a result the cartilage that acts as a protective layer between the bones of the joint frays and thins out. Soon, this leads to inflammation, pain and loss of function. The weight bearing joints are most affected.
If your horse is aging, then, regardless of his current condition, he may be a potential victim of this degenerative disease.
As mentioned earlier, arthritis in horses is the direct result of wear and tear and injury. With every passing year, your horse is that much more vulnerable to injury, trauma and aging.
It must be remembered that horses are generally very active and they give little rest to their joints. Even standing up puts pressure on these joints.
As the horse ages, there is a subtle shift in the metabolic processes. Muscles and tendons become less elastic, which means they are easily torn.
As the cartilage thins, it can no longer absorb the same amount of shock as before. Continuous movement also leads to small problems in structural alignment. In short, an aging horse has just what it takes to develop arthritis.
Some breeds like dwarf miniature horses are also prone to developing arthritis.
As in humans, treatment for arthritis horses must be started immediately. That is why it is important to look out for symptoms of arthritis in horses.
Early signs and symptoms are easy to miss. Most horses will show behavioral changes to some extent. There would be reluctance to move, stiffness in the legs and difficulty in getting up. You will also see that the horse is not very keen on running barrels or taking jumps.
As the condition gets worse, symptoms of arthritis in horses become even more pronounced. You might start noticing any of these symptoms:
Once you detect any of these symptoms of arthritis in your horse, you must take it to a vet. The vet will decide the right treatment option.
Painkillers may be recommended to help the horse cope with the tenderness and pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs may also be recommended. However, these may have side effects.
Therefore, doctors may recommend the use of drugs that reconstruct the cartilage. Adequan and Legend are two such drugs. You can arrest the development of further symptoms by giving oral supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to your horse.
Arthritis in horses is a painful and sad condition. But, as the horse ages, the chances of developing the degenerative disease are larger than ever.
However, timely identification of the disease can help limit the damage to a large extent.