Podcast Episode 11: Joint Supplements – if, when, and how

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Have you ever wondered if you should give your horse joint supplements?

And, if you already are using them, are you sure they’re working?

In this podcast episode, I address the three questions of:

*IF you should give joint supplements
*WHEN to use joint supplements
*HOW to tell if they’re working for your horse


Summary by AI:
Dr. Renee Tucker discusses the use of joint supplements for horses, advising caution and discernment. She compares the body’s acclimation to eyedrops with its response to joint supplements, explaining the negative feedback effect. Tucker recommends using joint supplements only when necessary and suggests assessing if they are needed based on factors like age or veterinary examination results. She emphasizes the importance of observing the horse’s response to determine the effectiveness of joint supplements. Tucker also advocates for starting with injectable joint supplements like Legend to assess the horse’s reaction before considering oral supplements. She warns against using joint supplements preventatively without clear evidence of need, citing misleading marketing tactics by pharmaceutical companies.


Speaker 1 (00:01)
Hello. Hello again, my friends. Dr. Renee Tucker here, equine veterinarian. Okay, today I would like to chat about joint supplements, if, when and how if you should use them, when you should use them, and how to tell if they’re working.

Speaker 1 (00:17)
Okay, let me tell you a little story, Shala. Okay. This is a story of my dad, who since passed away. But back in the day, he had really dry eyes. And for years that I knew he would use, he would use eyedrops, different kind of eyedrops.

Speaker 1 (00:36)
And one day he’s like, these eye drops just aren’t working. I’ve tried all these different brands. I just have to keep using more and more to keep my eyes moist. And so he said, I’m going to have to go to the eye doctor. So he goes to the ophthalmologist who tells him, well, yeah, that’s what happened.

Speaker 1 (00:55)
My dad’s like, what the ophthalmologist said that as you use eyedrops, your body becomes used to them, and your body’s like, well, I got enough eye drops. Got enough fluid in my eyes. I don’t need to make anymore. True story. And so the body becomes acclimated to those eye drops, and then the ophthalmology ends up giving my dad a really stronger prescription for eye drops because that’s what he needed to do at the time.

Speaker 1 (01:25)
Okay, so this acclimating of the body to stuff that we give it is actually referred to as a negative feedback effect. Negative not meaning it’s bad. It’s just that it tells the body, stop. I’ve got enough stop making that. So not only does that apply to eyedrops guys, that applies to joint supplements.

Speaker 1 (01:50)
Okay, so that’s why sometimes if you run out of your joint supplements, it does definitely seem like your horse might be stiffer, maybe even lame, because without those joint supplements, it takes a while for the horse’s body to ramp back up to producing the joint fluid that it was producing in the first place. We gave them supplements, and the body gets that negative feedback effect, saying, oh, well, I have enough of this joint stuff. I don’t need to make as much. And they stopped making as much. So usually it takes about 30 days or so for the buyer to ramp all the way back up to its normal level of production.

Speaker 1 (02:33)
So I really, for that reason or one of many reasons, do not like to suggest joint supplements just because if your horse needs them, they need them. I’m going to talk about that in a minute. But unless your horse needs joint supplements, I really suggest not putting them on it. There is that negative feedback effect. So you’re actually not helping anything and spending money you don’t need to spend.

Speaker 1 (02:58)
Okay, so as far as when do you use them? Like I said, when they need them, how do you know that? Well, generally, if the horse is a little bit older, things start wearing down a bit more. That’s true. But if you’ve already had body workers out who are saying, well, I’ve got the body moving as well as I can.

Speaker 1 (03:21)
Maybe it’s time for some joint supplements. That could be a clue. Possibly, if you have your vet out and they do some flexion test or take some, I’m sorry, flexion test or do some X rays, and they’re like, these joints are looking a little bit like they could use some joint supplements. That also be a clue. Okay, great.

Speaker 1 (03:45)
Well, then what do I do? Well, here’s a recommendation. And of course, do what you like. The thing is, all these oral products, we got a couple of problems. They’re not bad problems.

Speaker 1 (03:57)
It’s just what it is, an oral so by mouth joint supplements, one is you don’t know if the horse is absorbing it. First of all, they got to eat it. So let’s just assume that they’re eating it and not spitting it all over if it’s a powder or whatever. Okay, so let’s say they’re eating it, but we don’t know if they’re absorbing it. Some studies have shown that horses that are in their late teens and older don’t absorb these joint supplements as well as a younger horse.

Speaker 1 (04:28)
So there’s that little question Mark in your mind. Like, well, I’m giving him this, but is he using it? Did he absorb it and use it for his joints? That’s a question. And the other thing with the oral joint supplements is that it takes about 30 days to load them all the way up to their maximum potential.

Speaker 1 (04:48)
Again, that’s given if they’re absorbing it. Okay. So what I like to use just to take all those questions out of my mind is to give injectable joint supplements first. So you can do the Intramuscular or the Intravenous adequate Legend or their generics, and you do whatever Loading dose your veteran wants to give. So sometimes that’s a few of those shots.

Speaker 1 (05:15)
For example, though, with Legend, which is IV in the vein. I love that stuff, man. I plan to take that stuff when I need it. It can do great, really. But here’s the thing.

Speaker 1 (05:29)
They have on their product paperwork that you’re supposed to give a Legend injection. We have once every four weeks as a Loading dose. But if you look carefully at the description of that, the first shot gives you about 75% of what you’re going to get in the long run after the four shots. So what I like to do is give one shot of Ivy Legends. Then I wait 24 hours and see how the horse does.

Speaker 1 (06:04)
In 24 hours, you see the potential for what’s going to happen. So with many of my clients that I did with this, plenty of people would be like, oh, my gosh, the horses running around the pasture fantastic, clearly feeling so much better. Okay, if that’s the case, that’s a sign that your horse can really benefit from joint supplements. And at that point, you can decide if you want to continue with injectables of whatever kind or then you can change and go to some oral supplements. But you know what you’re looking for?

Speaker 1 (06:38)
You know the happiness of your horse, the running around, the flexibility because you’ve seen it happen. And of course, with the opposite end. If you give the shot of legend and you wait 24 hours and it’s absolutely the same, well, then I’d slow down on giving joint supplements. It doesn’t seem like that’s the primary problem. So that’s my suggestions for joint supplements, which is try to avoid them until you absolutely need them.

Speaker 1 (07:11)
If you think you need them, try a shot of IV legend first, see what your results are and then go from there. The one other thing I want to mention is the Pharmaceuticals excellent, excellent marketing programs. Because as I’m sure you’ve seen now, they’re talking about use joint supplements to prevent problems. Okay. This drives me absolutely insane.

Speaker 1 (07:39)
I hope I can be honest with you guys. They know that there’s a negative feedback effect. So I feel like that is a really false advertising. Now, if you’re one of the people who has a two year old or three year old and you’re running every weekend and you’re using excessive joint motion like raining for just for an example, it’s hard on them. All that traveling, just the crazy work.

Speaker 1 (08:09)
And I’m not saying that. I’m saying that’s their job and they’re being used hard. Okay, then, yes, you might need some extra joint food supplements only because they can’t keep up production to match their level of work. Okay, in that way, that might be considered preventative for damaging the joints Because you’re keeping up with the correct amount of joint fluid supplements. I hope that made sense.

Speaker 1 (08:38)
But other than that, guys, there’s a negative feedback cycle and they don’t explain that on their little advertisements. So please just use joint supplements when the horse needs it. And unfortunately, we just can’t do that by trial and error, which just means we try it and we test it and we see if it works. If it doesn’t work, please stop giving it. The only thing you’re doing if he doesn’t need it is telling them to stop making their own.

Speaker 1 (09:04)
Okay, let me know if any questions about that or any questions about anything else and I will talk to you guys next time. Thanks for listening. Bye.

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2 Comments on “Podcast Episode 11: Joint Supplements – if, when, and how”

  1. I just purchased a 10YO ranch versatility gelding that has done some reined cowhorse work. He’s accustomed to getting musculoskeletal injections of glucosamine. Have you heard of this? I cannot find efficacy for this. I’m questioning whether to continue this practice, or if I should replace with a fatty acid like chia or flax as a top dress, both of which are naturally anti-inflammatory. Related, oral hyaluronic acids have become quite popular. Do you include this in your list of “joint supplements” list?

    1. Yes, many horses get IM shots of glucosamine (often Adequan or a generic brand). I don’t know that there is any efficacy studies; I’ve never seen one.

      Chia is good. Flax is not as it is pseudoestrogenic. That is, the body reads it as estrogen. Not so good for a gelding (or a mare actually).

      Oral HA has been popular for some time, but again, no studies that I’ve seen.

      With oral supplements, you want to give it 30-60 days to see if there’s any improvement. If not, no reason to continue.
      Same with the injections. If you discontinue them, and see no adverse affect within 30 days, no reason to continue.

      Sometimes people just do stuff because they think it is helpful. And it MAY be helpful, but maybe not.

      Sorry to be ambiguous…it really depends on the individual horse and their needs. Good luck, Renee

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