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6 FAQs about the use of glucosamine and chondroitin in equine joint supplements

Wear and tear to the joints is a normal function and will occur naturally with age. However, domestication of the horse has increased stresses on the joints resulting in degenerative joint diseases (DJD) such as osteoarthritis which can cause chronic lameness. 

1.     Effects of DJD in the horse?

Many horses experience DJD from standing in their stables all day. Horses in the wild would roam all day long; therefore their joints would be conditioned and used to different kinds of impact. The domesticated horse is stationary the majority of the day confined to a stable and when he does exercise it is often explosive high energy, high impact activities such as racing and jumping. Even a gentle hack can cause heavy impact which can increase the rate at which the cartilage wears away. Constant pounding on artificial, hard or heavy ground is very demanding on joints; metal shoes increase concussion and reduce the frog’s ability to absorb the impact.

2.     What are Glucosamine and Chondroitin?

Glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally occurring chemicals found inside the horses body which assist in the production of cartilage. Cartilage is a natural shock absorber in equine joints which prevents their bones from rubbing together. As the horse gets older the cartilage between the bones begins to thin and this can cause pain as the bones begin to rub together (osteoarthritis). Increasing the amount of chondroitin and glucosamine can improve cartilage function, therefore, relieving the pain in the joints.

Glucosamine HCl enhances the level of glycosaminoglycans (GAG’S) in the joint. These GAG’S are the ‘building blocks’ in the cartilage matrix. Glucosamine HCl will increase the Hyaluronate content in the joint. Hyaluronate is a fundamental component of synovial fluid the joint lubricant.

Chondroitin sulphate is a natural ‘water magnet’ in the joint. Adequate amounts of Chondroitin enable the joint to withstand constant compression and concussion. Chondroitin also inhibits the ‘cartilage chewing’ enzymes that are present in damaged joints.

 

3.     Where are Glucosamine and Chondroitin found?

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are normal substances found in the bodies of living horses. They are at their highest concentration in cartilage. Unfortunately, through degradation during digestion and processing, almost all of the Glucosamine in a horse’s diet is unavailable for use. The body therefore synthesizes most of its own Glucosamine through a biochemical reaction utilizing glucose. In normal, healthy horses the body is able to synthesize enough Glucosamine to keep existing cartilage healthy, but when the horse ages, or there is damage to the joint cartilage it cannot produce enough to keep up with the body’s requirements.

Joint cartilage is not directly connected to any blood vessels, therefore, all of the nutrients that the cartilage needs for good health have to be small enough to pass through cellular walls to benefit the joint tissue.

4.     How do Glucosamine and chondroitin work?

Glucosamine provides the building blocks to synthesize new cartilage and Chondroitin blocks destructive enzymes that break down cartilage in the joints. The combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin regenerates new cartilage and re-establishes the function of damaged joints.

5.     Why use a glucosamine or chondroitin supplement?

When stress occurs within the joint, it causes inflammation. A small amount of inflammation means the immune system is doing its job, however, excessive or long term inflammation can lead to the breakdown of key tissues especially the joint cartilage. This breakdown is what causes the horse discomfort and a loss of flexibility.

Joint damage can be managed and prevented in many cases by using supplemented Glucosamine and Chondroitin to increase the levels already produced naturally by the horse’s body to maintain the joints. This can benefit horses with existing joint problems and can also be administered as a preventative measure. If your horse already has an acute joint problem such as lameness then you will most likely want to choose a joint supplement with an anti-inflammatory ingredient such as MSM.

6.     What equine products contain Glucosamine and Chondroitin