Using Oral Joint Supplements with Injectable Joint Medications

Jumping horse

I have a wonderful vet who just put my horse on Adequan which I am very happy about. My only question is can I now stop with oral joint supplements, this can be very costly. Thanks

–CS, Florida

Dear CS,

I agree, having a horse on both oral and injectable joint support can get expensive. However, I may be able to explain the differences between the two approaches as well as proper use of each to help you maximize the benefits while minimizing the costs.

Adequan® I.M. is the only disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug on the market approved by the FDA for the treatment of non-infectious degenerative joint disease. It contains polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, a naturally-occurring complex molecule that is the essential building block of the cartilage matrix. It travels into injured joints and stimulates production of new cartilage while relieving the symptoms of non-infectious DJD.

The really important thing to understand about Adequan is that it MUST be given just like it says on the package, which is one 500mg intramuscular injection once every four days for seven treatments. This is the only dose that has been proven to reverse the effects of degenerative joint disease. There is no official maintenance dose from the company such as once-a-month injections. Once-a-month dosing will offer relief for a four day period but is unable to reestablish the cartilage that has degraded from training, conformation or age-related changes. A more effective regime both in terms of cost and benefit to the joints would be a seven dose series twice a year to address DJD that is ongoing.

That is where oral joint supplements come in! Daily supplementation with hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate (a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) and glucosamine can help keep the building blocks of healthy joint tissue available when needed. Research has shown not only that all three ingredients are absorbed by the horse but also appear in significant amounts in joint tissue. A study by Martha Rodgers that appeared in Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. Vol 4, No 2, 2006, pp155-162 concluded that “consistent use of an oral glucosamine/chondroitin supplement resulted in a decreased need for distal tarsal joint injections to maintain soundness in a group of show hunters/jumpers.”

Now, this particular study refers to the injection of hyaluronic acid and or steroids directly into the joints, but what it says to me is that there is a place for both types of joint support in the horse: daily oral supplementation and injectable medication. Just make sure you give the oral joint supplement on a consistent, daily basis to maintain optimum levels of active ingredients in the body (SmartPaks are great for this!). As always, follow the manufacturer’s directions on the proper use of injectable joint medication. I hope that with this combined approach to joint health you are able to enjoy your horse for many years to come!

Lydia F. Gray, DVM MA, currently serves as the Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak Equine. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other locations. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association and enjoys training and showing her trakehner Newman in her spare time.  Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Have questions? Contact us »
Connect with us:

Meet the SmartPakers

Brittany and Nate
Ever since I was the girl with 1,000 breyer horses and the raggity braid in her hair, I was always obsessed. In second grade I moved into a town with a barn right down the street, which is when I started taking lessons...

Learn more »

Read our blog

Supplements and Feeds for Senior Horses
I run barrels and ride a 14yr. old mare, she will be 15 next month. Should I put her on any certain supplements or a senior feed? All she gets now is a 12-4 pellet feed. She is doing ok

Read More »

Healthy horses, happy riders.
SmartPak is committed to a greener planet.
Sign Up Now!
Free Catalog Get Yours Now!

SmartPak Equine is the premier online provider of horse supplies and equine supplements.
Questions? Call us Toll-Free at 1-888-752-5171. © Copyright 2014 by SmartPak Equine LLC. All Rights reserved.