Background: Horses are susceptible to arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis does not exist in horses. Arthritis, technically, is any condition that leads to an alteration of viscosity and loss of lubricative effect of the joint fluid. The result of this can be an increase in heat and friction within the joint capsule. After a joint becomes arthritic and the inflammation has become chronic, the body attempts to ameliorate the situation by laying down calcium deposits on the ends of the bones that form the articulation as well as the soft tissue of the joint capsule.
Symptoms: Pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion leading to calcified deposits in some of the joints.
Diagnostics: Lameness exam, palpation. Mineral deposits are also readily visible radiographically or with ultrasound evaluation.
Special Notes: Decreased liver function and "leaky bowel" syndrome can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis in sensitive individuals.
Principles for Supplementation: Improve the health of the joint fluid and reduce inflammation and pain.