Are you a fan of joint supplements? If so you are not alone. Joint supplements make up approximately 1/3 of all supplement sales. Click on equine joint supplements in SmartPak and you'll get 108 products to choose from. So how on earth are you supposed to decide which, if any joint supplement to go for.
As veterinarians we make recommendations based on evidence. Many manufacturers make bold claims about their products but unless they have been tested with clinical trials and the results verified and published, their claims should be taken with a grain of salt.
Here is what we do know. The following oral joint health supplement ingredients have been shown to exhibit joint benefits at various doses either on their own or in combination.
ASU (avocado/soybeans unsaponifiables)
HA (Hyaluronic acid)
Omega-3 fatty acids
Now just because a product has some of these ingredients does not mean it will be effective. Recent research has shown quality issues with many products on the market. One study found 40% of products failed to meet their label claims and 17% of products had less than 30% of their label stated concentrations.
So if you're going to go down the road of using oral joint supplements here are some guidelines for deciding which one to choose.
Do you recognize the company/brand? Long standing, veterinary based, and research backed should offer some credibility to the product.
Do they offer published independent research on their products?
Do they clearly label the ingredients?
What are their product claims? If they use terms like 'cure' or 'prevent' - they are unlikely to be a reliable source.
Does the label make it easy to figure out how much you should be giving your horse?
Is there a lot number and expiration date?
Is the manufacturer information available, including name, address and contact info.
If your horse has osteoarthritis there are a number of treatment options available to you, we will be discussing these in our next blog post. The right oral joint supplements may be a useful adjunct to your horses treatment or management strategy but it is very much a case of buyer beware. Often times supplements are good for little else besides emptying your wallet. Do your research and set yourself limits. If you don't see improvements then don't keep using it.