All animals, including humans, have a tendency towards arthritis as they get older.? In horses the disease can the result of the ageing process and general wear and tear on joints, or can come on at any age due to an injury.
Arthritis specifically refers to the inflammation of your horse?s joints, especially weight bearing ones, which then causes erosion of cartilage.? As the disease progresses it causes stiffness, pain, and can eventually cripple your horse.? Typical symptoms of arthritis include stiffness when first being worked, swollen or puffy lower leg joints, and a change in his gait or ability to perform exercises that he used to do with ease.? If you suspect that your horse has the beginnings of arthritis, talk to your vet about x-rays and a possible treatment plan.
In the meantime, there are some simple things you can do to keep your senior horse from being at risk of this debilitating disease.
- Keep him fit and active.? Even moderate exercise keeps joints flexible and improves circulation in his body.? Being able to move around allows him to shift his weight bearing, and lets the cartilage in his joints work the way it was meant to.? If he doesn?t have pasture to walk around on all day, a paddock is still better than a stall.
- Try equine physiotherapy or simple stretches on your own.? Keeping your horse flexible and his muscles warmed up will not only make him more comfortable, but will also improve his ability to exercise
- Feed an appropriate diet.? There are many supplements that are known to assist with joint maintenance.? Talk to your veterinarian to be sure your older horse is getting all the nutrients he needs.