Should joint health additives (glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate) be used?


Joint health supplements are reported as one of the most popular types of horse nutritional supplements. It is not surprising that lameness caused by foot and joint problems is the most frequently reported health problem. The limp is universal to all horses because breed, age, has become a major concern for all horse owners, veterinarians and trainers. Commercial joint supplements are aimed at relieving pain and inflammation and slowing or preventing the deterioration of joint cartilage and promoting its synthesis.


Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, an important component in cartilage, are the most popular additives of horse joint supplements, but their efficacy (individually and in combination) in relation to their ability to prevent and treat osteoarthritis is open to debate. Studies induced by joint diseases showed benefit only when the horse was given glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate not orally but also intramuscularly injections.


A wide variety of dosage rates have been used in clinical studies. Dechant and Baxter (2007) reported positive results from doses as low as 10μg / ml to 25mg / ml, yet success varies between study and study. It provides dosage recommendation when using equine joint supplements in relation to the active ingredient, but many commercial joint supplements have been shown to provide sub-therapeutic doses (Oke et al., 2006).


Dechant, JE and Baxter, GM (2007). Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate as structure modifying agents in horses. Equine Veterinary Education 19: 2; 90-96

Oke, S., Aghazadeh-habashi, Weese, JS, Jamali, F. (2006). Evaluation of glucosamine levels in commercial equine oral supplements for joints. Equine Veterinary Journal 38 (1); 93-95