BD at Home: Understanding arthritis

  • Written By: Petplan Equine
  • Published: Fri, 01 Jan 2021 10:45 GMT

Arthritis can be a career affecting condition in not only horses, but humans as well. As part of our BD at Home: Ask the Expert series, Petplan Equine give us a greater understanding of Osteoarthritis in horses. 

What is it?

Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), is common in horses, humans, dogs and many other animals. It's a slowly developing disease in which the joint tissues become inflamed and the joint cartilage is damaged and worn down. Arthritis is very painful and reduces the range of movement in the affected joint.

What are the clinical signs?

  • Stiffness
  • Swelling of affected joints so they appear larger
  • Heat in the joints
  • Lameness

How can I help prevent arthritis in my horse?

Osteoarthritis is caused by "wear and tear" over a number of years, most usually in those horses that have had regular "hard work". Below are some tips to reduce the likeliness of arthritis in your horse.

  • Take time warming up and cooling down after exercise
  • Ride on varied surfaces not too much on hard ground or very deep surfaces
  • Monitor your horses weight, obesity increases pressure on the joints

What can I do if my horse is suffering?

  • There is no absolute cure for osteoarthritis but there are a number of ways of managing the condition and reducing the pain it causes.
  • Your vet may suggest an oral joint supplement or a direct injection to the affected joints in addition to oral anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • In conjunction with advice from your vet, a light exercise programme tailored to maintain suppleness can be very beneficial.
  • Keep your horse turned out as much as possible as moving around reduces the likelihood of stiffening up.

Petplan Equine, proud sponsors of the Area Festivals for over 20 years, offer a wide range of insurance services to BD members, horse riders and pet owners. Visit their website to find out more and read further advice on managing your horse for the best health and happiness.