Joint Health FAQs

Question: Is there a specific equine conformation type that may be more likely
to develop non-infectious degenerative joint disease (DJD)? Arrow Up

Answer: Conformation can greatly influence the degree of wear and tear that a joint undergoes. Conformational abnormalities alter the forces applied to a joint and can potentially lead to joint instability, injury, and DJD. The mature equine athlete that is performing well has likely adapted to whatever conformation issues exist. However, if you are considering purchasing a young, unproven horse, avoiding horses with significant conformational flaws will increase the likelihood of the chosen horse staying sound. In young foals and growing horses, conformational abnormalities should be addressed as early as possible through proper nutrition, balanced farriery, adequate training and muscle development, and in some cases, surgical intervention.
Question: Are all horses at risk for DJD? Arrow Up
Answer: All horses are susceptible to joint dysfunction, regardless of breed, age or discipline. Lameness is a major contributor to decreased performance, diminished value, and shortened careers for a majority of horses. All breeds, ages, and disciplines are susceptible to joint-related lameness. Veterinarian and equine experts agree that a horse's health and soundness are a result of a team effort. The key team members of owner, trainer, rider, veterinarian, and farrier share the same long-term goal of improving joint health for soundness and optimum performance.
Question: With respect to different disciplines, would a cutting horse
or reining horse be more susceptible to DJD than a hunter-jumper? Arrow Up

Answer: Any horse can develop DJD regardless of age, breed or discipline. However, the horse’s discipline may predispose the horse to developing DJD in particular joints. For example, cutting or reining horses put significant stress on their hocks and stifles, and these can be locations where DJD occurs more frequently; whereas hunters will frequently experience more front-limb lameness, such as in the coffin or fetlock joints. It is important to understand that DJD can occur within any joint that consistently experiences wear and tear, known as “use trauma,” and can occur in any performance horse, regardless of discipline.
Question: What are the early warning signs of DJD? Arrow Up
Answer: Despite enduring great stress, a horse's joints normally maintain a balance of strength and pliability. However, a horse’s joints are slowly under destruction through “wear and tear” with limited ability to restore joint tissue back to the normal balanced “wear-and-repair” state. Detection of subtle behavioral problems that can signal the onset of joint pain, and addressing any instability or injury in the joint early on, improves your horse's chances of maintaining full mobility. Routine inspection of joints is essential to recognize early signs of joint dysfunction that can lead to degenerative joint disease. Early signs may include:
  • Behavioral changes (reluctance to perform, sour attitude, etc)
  • Decline in performance
  • Inflammation of the joint and surrounding soft tissue (heat, swelling, pain)
  • Excess fluid or swelling in or around the joint
  • Any change in gait or subtle alteration in stride
  • Decreased range of motion
Question: Does joint damage occur from overwork or old age? Arrow Up
Answer: Joint damage can happen from a single misstep or from chronic overuse throughout a horse’s athletic career. Proper equine joint function requires a complex and harmonious system of tissues that provide strength, stability and protection while affording a broad range of movement and flexibility. When in a balanced state, healthy joints provide an efficient mechanism to restore aged cells and stimulate repair in order to achieve minimal loss to essential joint cartilage. However, this ongoing joint “wear-and-repair” cycle can become overwhelmed even in the fittest of horses and insufficient when joints are injured (sprains, fractures, etc.), overloaded from training, excessive use, weak conformation, or imbalanced feet.
Question: When should I call a veterinarian? Arrow Up
Answer: Early recognition and treatment of joint-related lameness can minimize joint damage before permanent cartilage or bone injury occurs. If your horse has heat, pain, swelling, a stiff or swollen joint, or decreased performance, contact your equine veterinarian for a comprehensive examination and appropriate diagnosis. Discuss available treatment options with your veterinarian and determine which option is appropriate for your horse’s particular situation.
Question: What are the benefits of using FDA approved products to treat my horse? Arrow Up
Answer: FDA-approved products have been rigorously tested for safety and efficacy through required clinical studies. It should always be preferable to use FDA-approved products over other products circulating in the equine marketplace, such as compounded medications, medical devices, and supplements which are not required to demonstrate safety or efficacy, are not routinely monitored, and are not regulated with the same level of scrutiny.
Question: How can I tell if a product is FDA Approved? Arrow Up
Answer: Some veterinary medical devices may appear to be similar to pharmaceuticals. Only FDA approved products are given a 6 digit New Animal Drug Application (NADA) or Abbreviated New Animal Drug Application (-ANADA for generics). This 6 digit number appears on the label of FDA approved products. As an example, see the NADA number highlighted on the vial shown on the right.
Question: What is the relationship between osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease (DJD)? Arrow Up
Answer: As pliable cartilage is thinned and lost and the underlying bone becomes damaged, significant pain and lameness, joint swelling, and stiffness can occur. With ongoing recurrent insult, the bone attempts to adapt and remodel, which can result in the presence of visible changes to bone on radiographs. If the bone surface continues to absorb excessive concussion due to loss of healthy cartilage, this results in additional pain and inflammation within the joint, and further changes to bone. The progressive, cyclical process eventually results in irreversible degradative changes in cartilage and bone, termed Osteoarthritis or “OA,” which is the “end-stage” progression of Degenerative Joint Disease.1
1. McIlwraith CW. Traumatic arthritic and posttraumatic osteoarthritis in the horse. In: McIlwraith CW, Frisbie DD, Kawcak CE, van Weeren PR, eds. Joint Disease in the Horse. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier, 2016;33-48.

Adequan® i.m. INDICATIONS For the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses. IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION Studies have not been conducted to establish safety in breeding horses. WARNING: Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children. CAUTION: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.
BetaVet® INDICATIONS BetaVet® is indicated for the control of pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in horses. IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION For Intra-articular (I.A.) use in Horses. CONTRAINDICATIONS: BetaVet® is contraindicated in horses with hypersensitivity to betamethasone. Intra-articular injection of corticosteroids for local effect is contraindicated in the presence of septic arthritis. WARNINGS: Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. Clinical and experimental data have demonstrated that corticosteroids administered orally or parenterally to animals may induce the first stage of parturition when administered during the last trimester of pregnancy and may precipitate premature parturition followed by dystocia, fetal death, retained placenta, and metritis. Additionally, corticosteroids administered to dogs, rabbits and rodents during pregnancy have resulted in cleft palate in offspring and in other congenital anomalies including deformed forelegs, phocomelia and anasarca. Therefore, before use of corticosteroids in pregnant animals, the possible benefits to the pregnant animal should be weighed against potential hazards to its developing embryo or fetus. Human Warnings: Not for use in humans. For use in animals only. Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children. Consult a physician in the case of accidental human exposure. PRECAUTIONS: Corticosteroids, including BetaVet®, administered intra-articularly are systemically absorbed. Do not use in horses with acute infections. Acute moderate to severe exacerbation of pain, further loss of joint motion, fever, or malaise within several days following intra-articular injection may indicate a septic process. Because of the anti-inflammatory action of corticosteroids, signs of infection in the treated joint may be masked. Due to the potential for exacerbation of clinical signs of laminitis, glucocorticoids should be used with caution in horses with a history of laminitis, or horses otherwise at a higher risk for laminitis. Use with caution in horses with chronic nephritis, equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), and congestive heart failure. Concurrent use of other anti-inflammatory drugs, such as NSAIDs or other corticosteroids, should be approached with caution. Due to the potential for systemic exposure, concomitant use of NSAIDs and corticosteroids may increase the risk of gastrointestinal, renal, and other toxicity. Consider appropriate wash out times prior to administering additional NSAIDs or corticosteroids. ADVERSE REACTIONS: Adverse reactions reported during a field study of 239 horses of various breeds which had been administered either BetaVet® (n=119) or a saline control (n=120) at five percent (5%) and above were: acute joint effusion and/or local injection site swelling (within 2 days of injection), 15% BetaVet® and 13% saline control; increased lameness (within the first 5 days), 6.7% BetaVet® and 8.3% saline control; loose stool, 5.9% BetaVet® and 8.3% saline control; increased heat in joint, 2.5% BetaVet® and 5% saline control; and depression, 5.9% BetaVet® and 1.6% saline control. DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION: Shake well immediately before use. Use immediately after opening, then discard any remaining contents. Use immediately after opening, then discard any remaining contents. RX ONLY

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Online ordering system for veterinarians Purchase Adequan® Equine and BetaVet® Online Now!

Or Call Customer Service Today! (800) 458-0163 For Adequan® Canine please click here to locate a distributor in your area!

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