Arthrosis horse – cause, treatment and prevention

Diagnosis of arthrosis – a big shock for many riders and horse owners. But what exactly is osteoarthritis and what can you do about it? Time for an overview of causes, diagnosis and treatment as well as tips for prevention. Ideally, your horse will not get sick in the first place.

Arthrosis – what is it actually?

Arthrosis is a joint disease that usually occurs gradually. The typical forms of arthrosis in horses include spavin, shell or navicular disease. Osteoarthritis is common in horses with high joint loads. However, the disease can affect any horse – regardless of breed, age or training condition. Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease of the joints. This means that the disease persists over a longer period of time, has an insidious disease process and is irreversible. The damage to the joints cannot be reversed.

What are joints for?

Arthrosis is the most common disease of the joints – and they are super important for the horse’s body. The joints connect the individual bones to each other. This allows your horse to move. The cartilage is located in the joint itself and is, so to speak, the shock absorber of the individual bones. In this way, the bones remain flexible and do not rub against each other. With intact cartilage, your darling will run well lubricated and without any problems. To keep it that way, however, the cartilage needs various nutrients because it has to regenerate regularly. These nutrients are present in synovial fluid. They can be supplemented with additional feed if the load is high. If the cartilage cannot form again or if it is worn out, joint problems arise and the bones rub against each other. This has a significant impact on your horse’s mobility.

Nutrients to support cartilage If your horse is injured or the joints are overused, the Cells in the cartilage are active and try to repair the cartilage damage. For this, the cells need the individual cartilage components. If these are not present and the cartilage damage cannot be compensated for, wear and tear or loss of the cartilage occurs. Therefore, the most important nutrients, also for cartilage formation, should be included in your horse’s supplementary feed.

Causes of arthrosis in horses When asked where the Osteoarthritis stems from several causes. It is often these:

Overloading of the joints due to excessive sport or being overweight wrong hoof position congenital malposition wrong or inadequate nutrition wrong Wear and tear of the joints an acute joint injury that has not healed Joint malpositions & joint diseases Cartilage changes wrongly shod hooves Often an interaction leads There are several causes of the disease.

Symptoms – how does arthrosis manifest itself in horses? Arthrosis begins gradually and then gets progressively worse. At the beginning, many horse owners do not recognize the disease at all, since the first signs are hardly visible. If the joint injuries get worse, this is often expressed by lameness and a clumsy gait. Horses are usually most lame after rest periods. Only after some time does the gait gradually improve.

Types of arthrosis in horses – different symptoms Arthrosis can occur at different joint points in the horse’s leg . Frequent places are the hock (sparrow), the crown or fetlock bone (shell) or the hoof (navicular disease). Depending on which joint is affected by osteoarthritis, the course of the disease and the symptoms can vary somewhat. Thus, the navicular disease can often be recognized by stumbling or shortened gaits or, in the case of the shell, by a relief of the front legs. In the case of a disease of the spavin, pain in the ankle joint is also visible as the first sign of the onset of arthrosis. The affected joints may be warm or swollen. Many horses are also sensitive to pain when touched.

How do I recognize arthrosis in horses?

The beginning of arthrosis can hardly be determined. If your horse doesn’t like to move that much, this can be a first sign. If you notice pain when walking, lameness, or other changes in movement, a veterinarian should be contacted. The sooner you find out that your four-legged friend has osteoarthritis, the better.

The diagnosis of osteoarthritis If you tell your vet about your suspected osteoarthritis, will do some research. There are several ways to diagnose arthrosis. The veterinarian will first examine your horse’s general health and fitness level. This also includes a lameness examination. Your horse walks and trots on different surfaces and also has to take part in individual flexion tests of the legs. Blood tests or X-rays may be needed to determine the condition and extent. Depending on how far the disease has progressed, many different diagnostic procedures are required.

Arthrosis in winter Many horses with arthrosis shy away from exercise . Who would want to start jogging when the first steps after resting are particularly painful due to joint wear and tear? In the cold months, this reluctance to exercise is particularly evident. Due to the colder temperatures, the metabolism slows down and the blood circulation in the legs is reduced. In addition, horses are usually less exercised in winter, which can make the pain even worse. Therefore, you should pay particular attention to sufficient exercise, especially in winter.

Treatment of arthrosis As soon as your horse is suffering from arthrosis, you can counteract nothing to do with the disease itself. The damage to the joints is irreversible. Therefore, the diagnosis for horse owners is usually a big shock. But: You can influence the further development of the disease and thus slow down the process. Many horses suffer from arthrosis and can still be ridden. The earlier the diagnosis is established, the sooner you can start treatment.

Important when treating arthrosis: Nothing works without an uncle doctor! Osteoarthritis is very diverse and the quick and correct treatment immediately after the diagnosis decides how the disease develops. So do not experiment, but contact your vet immediately and get advice. During treatment, an interplay of movement, correct feeding and medication is crucial.

Movement, movement, movement!

Movement is so important with osteoarthritis! Even if your horse has pain at the beginning when running, the legs must be moved and supplied with blood. Make sure you have a sufficient warm-up phase in your step and avoid tight turns, jumps or strenuous exercises for the joints. Talk to your veterinarian about which movements or exercises are best suited for your four-legged friend and which ones you should eliminate from your training plan.

Slim off extra kilos If your horse is well fed or has accumulated some winter fat, this is a real problem for horses with osteoarthritis. The additional weight puts a lot of strain on the joints. A found food for the arthrosis. This can make it even worse.

Nutritional supplements Certain supplementary feed can support your horse’s joints. Certain additives stimulate cartilage production. Look out for ingredients like devil’s claw, MSM or glucosamine. They are known for their cartilage-promoting effect.

Therapies and medication Depending on the stage of osteoarthritis, there are also various medications that can help your horse. Some relieve the joints and help build cartilage, others relieve your horse’s pain. Always talk to your vet about which medications are suitable for your four-legged friend. Anti-inflammatory creams or hyaluronic acid injections can help. There are also different treatment methods for bone splinters. Stem cell therapy, autohemotherapy to leeches – there are many alternative and possibly helpful approaches to help your horse.

Appropriate shoeing Horses should always have the right shoe – we know that ourselves: If the shoes don’t fit, we can’t walk well. Especially in the case of osteoarthritis, you should talk to your veterinarian and blacksmith to find out whether your four-legged friend needs special horseshoes. This is especially important in the case of shell or navicular disease.

Treatment with heat When treating with heat, you should be careful and ask your veterinarian. If you are in pain, a heat treatment can be very beneficial for your darling and also relieve the pain a little. However, if there is still an acute infection in the joints, heat will only make it worse. First talk to your trusted veterinarian and don’t bother with self-treatment without consultation.

Arthrosis – reason to put yourself to sleep? The diagnosis of arthrosis is bad for horse owners and the thought that the treatment will not work and the beloved horse can only walk with pain is unbearable. But the diagnosis is no reason to euthanize a horse immediately. Although the disease cannot be cured and requires lifelong treatment, there are many ways to relieve the joints and support the horse through exercise, food and medication. Don’t waste any time and let us set up a treatment plan straight away.

Prevent osteoarthritis in horses Your horse needs intact and well-lubricated joints for every movement. If you pay attention to the cartilage formation and the joints of your darling, you can prevent osteoarthritis. The following points are essential:

Sufficient minerals The horse’s body develops and grows especially in the first few years. The right food is important here so that bones and joints develop properly. This not only applies to weaners, but also to young horses – most horses are only fully grown at the age of five and should be supported with nutrients during growth. Above all, an adequate supply of minerals is important so that your four-legged friend has strong tendons, ligaments and joints.

Additional food Without well-lubricated joints, nothing works – therefore additional food can be useful for sporting activities. Provide your horse with important ingredients so that the joints are not overly stressed and worn out. Our Joint Liquid helps to provide your horse with many important nutrients.

Overload One of the main causes is overloading of the joints. During training, make sure you have sufficient warm-up phases in your step. Bring variety and don’t only train individual muscle groups and joints.

Are you active in tournament sports or do you train a lot with your four-legged friend? In sports such as jumping, dressage or western riding, the joints are sometimes heavily stressed. Ensure the right training, the optimal supply of nutrients and the right horseshoes. Always be in contact with the trainer and uncle doctor, with regular check-ups you can identify joint problems at an early stage.

Regularly to the farrier

When it comes to the health of your horse, you should listen to professionals, this also applies to hoof care. Put your horse regularly at the blacksmith v or There it can also be determined whether your horse wears its hooves evenly or whether it is crooked or bending inwards.

Reduce weight Being overweight puts additional strain on your horse’s joints – so always keep an eye on your horse’s weight.

Curing up from injuries If your horse is injured and has been prescribed a break, stick to it. Injuries to joints that you do not heal properly promote arthrosis. Start the training slowly and let your vet take a look at the joints again at the beginning.

Take lameness seriously Every horse can stretch itself, twist its ankle easily and run a little out of round – all of this can have numerous reasons and often there is no serious cause behind it. However, you should take your pet’s lameness, stiff walking, or other odd behavior seriously. In any case, the basic rule is: It’s better to call the vet once too often than once too little. At the first sign of osteoarthritis in your horse, you should definitely consult your veterinarian. If you continue to train normally, in the worst case a nasty joint injury will develop.

Riding with arthrosis

Does the diagnosis of arthrosis mean the end for your riding horse? Normally not. Depending on the form and progress of the arthrosis, however, you have to consider a few aspects. Ask your veterinarian which exercise is suitable for you and your darling. Strenuous exercises are usually no longer possible with arthrosis. However, a riding or leisure horse with arthrosis can still be ridden pain-free into old age with appropriate adjustments. The sooner the diagnosis is made, the better you can support your horse.

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