Recent Info on Equine Joint Supplements

As the owner of an aging horse, I’m always keeping my eyes open for information on joint supplements and scientific research. Neutriceuticals are still a gray area, mostly because there is no regulation and very little scientific evidence of their efficacy.

I came across two references recently that I found interesting:

  • Glucosamine and Joint Health: Pharmacologic Research OngoingCanadian researchers recently compared the pharmacologic properties of two different forms of glucosamine–hydrochloride and sulphate. They measured significantly higher levels of glucosamine in synovial fluid samples from horses receiving the oral glucosamine sulphate formulation as compared to synovial fluid levels in horses receiving oral glucosamine hydrochloride.
  • Update on Equine Joint Healthcare, a Round Table Discussion on Chondroprotective Agents: This discussion which was sponsored by Nutramax (the manufacturer of Cosequin), but it has some excellent information and insights from some real heavy hitters. The discussion is moderated by Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, DSc, DACVS, Director of Equine Orthopedics Research enter and Professor of Surgery at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The participating vets were Kent Allen, DVM, Viginia Equine Imaging; Michael Davis, DVM, MS, Founder and CEO of the New England Equine Medical & Surgical Center; Douglas Langer, DVM, MS, VP, Partner & Director of Surgery & Diagnostic Imaging at the Wisconsin Equine Clinic & Hospital; Brian MacNamara, DVM, Warwick Equine Clinic; and Richard Stevens, DVM, Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital. It is well worth reading.

The article raised some very interesting points about joint supplements. The vets talk about a study conducted The statements that stunned me the most was this one from Dr. Stevens: “There was a very recent report ( that compared the labeled ingredients versus what was actually in the product. Of the five veterinary glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate products tested as of September 2007, two failed: One contained only 0.7% of the labeled quantity of chondroitin sulfate and 47.2% of the labeled glucosamine hydrochloride amount, and the other had only 2.1% of the labeled chondroitin sulfate amount.”

And this one from Dr. McIlwaith, “Research by Oke showed that 78% of equine glucosamine products didn’t meet their label claims; 39% had levels below the labeled claim (some even had none of a listed ingredient) and the others had levels signifi cantly higher than indicated. Until the manufacturers have to prove efficacy, there are always going to be problems, but having the products match their labels would be a good start.”

Wow! At the prices you pay for most joint supplements, it’s appalling to realize that you might not get anything even close to what you are paying for. Among the five products tested by Consumer Labs for pets, only the supplements by Nutramax (Cosequin) and Martingale Labs (GLC) contained the ingredients in the percentages claimed on the labels. Now, this study was by no means comprehensive, but it does make you skeptical of the “juju” powder!

4 thoughts on “Recent Info on Equine Joint Supplements

  1. Very informative blog site! I have a dietary supplement site which has some related content which you might be interested in.



  2. ASU another Nutramax Rip Off
    I’m not sure how you feel about trusted members of the Veterinary community advocating a product they know is not delivering to the consumer what the clinical research has shown. But this is nothing new for the pimps that are bought and paid for out of the Nutramax coffers.
    It’s difficult to see where their lips end and Nutramax’s ass begins, because over the years they have become one in the same. Here is the latest drivel from the so called “respected colleagues” . These individuals with prior knowledge to the clinical results, for some reason still agree with the manufacturer to advocate a 1000mg dose when clearly to get a clinical response 6 times as much is needed.
    I am sick and tired of these sell outs, nobody benefits except them, not the practitioner, consumer, or the patient. Why do we support this malfeasance of duty and ethics?
    Evaluation of Avocado Soybean
    Unsaponifiables Using the Colorado State Equine Osteoarthritis Model
    This study was a blinded, experimentally controlled, randomized block design that used 16 horses in an established model of OA. On day 0 of the study, arthroscopic surgery was performed and OA was induced in the midcarpal joint of all horses.
    Also on day 0, horses were divided into two groups: placebo and ASU-treatment. The placebo group (n = 8) received molasses orally one time daily, whereas the ASU-treated group (n = 8) received 6 g of ASU and a similar volume of molasses orally; both treatments were continued throughout the study period.
    On day 14, horses began treadmill exercise, which continued for the remaining 8 weeks of the study. All horses\ completed the study, and no adverse events were recorded.
    At the termination of the study, horses treated with ASU were observed to have clinically improved total gross examination score (articular cartilage erosion + synovial membrane hemorrhage score) in their OA joints compared with placebo-treated control horses. There was also significant decrease in intimal hyperplasia in the synovial membrane, as well as a decrease in the histologic cartilage disease score. There was a trend for a decrease in lameness. Significant decrease in the cartilage disease points this product toward being a DMOAD.
    Kawcak CE, Frisbie DD, McIlwraith, et al. Evaluation of avocado and soybean unsaponifiable extracts for treatment of horses with experimentally induced osteoarthritis.
    Am J Vet Res 2007;68:598-604.

  3. the comment made about what products met label claim, and which didn’t by McIlwraith is so far off the mark. In 2007 testing results at the consumer labs web site you’ll find that there was only 1 Equine supplement that met and exceeded it’s label claim, and it wasn’t Nutramax’s product, their Canine product did though, but so did the other product that did meet it’s label claim. It is noteworthy that the other product was utilized in the longest study in history 8 years. With incredible results. check out the Am J Journal July 2006 for Dr. Martha Rodgers VMD study. now that study is really worth reading. IMHO.

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