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Degenerative Joint Disease - How To Take Care Of Your Horse

Author : Jared Wright


Regardless of what tasks your horse performs, from racing to the casual jaunt around the farm, its joints end up getting a lot of wear and tear. It makes sense since horses are not small or light weight animals, their joints have to hold up a lot of their weight. Without proper care, your horse's joints will wear out overtime or are more prone to experience trauma. When that happens, your horse will likely develop a condition known as degenerative joint disease or DJD in short.

This is a condition that befalls most horse during their lifetime unless the horse is largely let alone to pasture and is never ridden. It is no doubt a wonderful experience to ride a horse, however it is important to note that a horse's body is not design to take heavy weight naturally. With this in mind, joint care should be an important aspect of your horse overall health care.

Degenerative joint disease is the name given to the condition that arises and progresses as a horse's joint becomes worn. The membrane within the joint is slowly worn and inflamed to where it no longer produces the fluids found in a joint regularly or in sufficient quantities. The limited amount of fluid causes the cartilage of the joint to thin and possibly even tear which will be painful for your horse. A horse with untreated degenerative joint disease will likely experience lameness.

The first sign of joint problems is puffiness around the joint areas. Unless you are looking for this, you are unlikely to notice it, and a horse that exhibits no other symptoms might still be on the path towards serious joint disability.

More overt and obvious symptoms involve clear pain in the joint areas, and your horse may be very reluctant to do work. A horse at this stage will also have puffiness around the joints. You may note that your horse movements and gait seems to be stiff when you first brought her out and that they improve as she warms up. If you notice that maneuvers that usually would have been easily performed are now very difficult or your horse refuses to do them, this may also be a sign that degenerative joint disease has indeed set in.

If you notice or even suspect that your horse may have developed degenerative joint disease, give your veterinarian a call. A flex test will be carry out on the joints. Afterward you will likely be asked to lead your horse to walk around briefly which will give your vet a chance to get a look at the horse's gait. At this point, your veterinarian will advice if your horse is required to take x-ray to confirm the condition.

There are a couple of options to help manage your horse's joint problem. After working, you may choose to spray down your horse's joints with cold water. This simple act will help reduce the swelling in the area. You can consider to reduce your horse's activities to those that stress the joints lesser.

Last but not least, your veterinarian can administer injections, made out of your horse's own blood, that go directly into the joint to help mitigate the pain and inflammation.


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Horses communicate with their facial expressions and you can determine their moods by observing their nostrils, eyes and ears. You can visit our site by clicking on the link to learn more about horse health and horse care.

Article Source:
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Tags:   equine joint care, horse joint care, degenerative joint disease, DJD

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Submitted : 2010-10-21    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 454