Many people are familiar with the pain and suffering of arthritis. Arthritis is quite common among humans, especially those of advanced age. However, many people are not aware that animals can also be affected by the same condition.
Horses are especially susceptible to arthritis. Just like humans, horses also may suffer from painful and crippling arthritis.
What Causes Arthritis in Horses?
Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joints become thin and stripped away over time, primarily in the elderly. There are two different kinds of arthritis in horses, one of which is more visible physically than the other.
Generally, by the time a horse reaches fifteen years of age, their joint stability changes dramatically. However, if you have a horse whose physical ability is in high demand, he may be susceptible to premature onset of arthritis. In addition, as their weight puts pressure on their bones, some horses may experience early erosion of the cartilage between their joints.
Symptoms of Arthritis in Horses
In some cases, if the disorder is caught in the early stages, additional protection can be used to help the joints regenerate. For this reason, it is best to treat arthritis in horses in the early phase to achieve the most effective recovery. Therefore, it is best to know what symptoms to look for so you can treat your horse as soon as possible.
The primary symptoms of arthritis in horses include:
- Hesitation to execute routine manoeuvres.
- Noticeable swelling or bumps around the leg joints.
- Noticeable grinding in the joints when working or riding.
- Noticeable difficulty or awkwardness in gait that seems to taper off with time during a workout.
- Stiffness after standing in the stall all day.
Diagnosing and Treating Arthritis in Horses
If you think your horse is indeed suffering from painful arthritis, then you can take a number of measures to make sure such suffering does not last. Arthritis in horses can be a tricky diagnosis, so as part of your horse care responsibilities, it is important to take the time to learn as much as possible about this painful condition.
Gently examine your horse’s joints on a daily basis. Be sure to look for any swelling or exaggerated indentions around the joint area. If your horse flicks his tail uncomfortably or tenses his body, you will know that he is in pain. When his reaction indicates that his pain is quite severe, it is time to make a call to the veterinarian. Otherwise, a home treatment should suffice.
A number of different treatment options for arthritis in horses are available depending on the severity of the disorder, such as injectable steroids. Contact your vet for advice before administering any treatment to ensure you make the best choice for your horse.