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Bute vs. Supplement for Arthritis

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  • Bute vs. Supplement for Arthritis

    I had a sad weekend as my gelding is sore again, but more than ever. Coming to the realization that he is getting older

    He was diagnosed arthritic in a front pastern about 6 years ago, and was showing mild lameness, no visible pain, mostly just stiffness and head bobbing. He goes through periods where he is not head-bobbing or stiff, to periods where he is. Each lasts a few months. He is 16 and has been retired since 2005 (pre-diagnosis) as I went to school and had no time to ride him. He and his companion are lawn ornaments He has been on supplements such as Corta-FLX before, and we didn't really see much change in his behaviour or level of soreness. He is always very perky, ears forward, etc. the lameness sort of comes and goes.

    This past week he has been lying down a lot more than normal. Sunday we took the horses out for some grass to start their transition to the summer pasture, and he was limping on the arthritic leg while being led, more than I've ever seen him do I checked him over and everything else seems to be normal.

    I hope he's just stiff from lack of exercise in the smaller winter paddock; the weather sucks and it's pretty muddy. The summer pasture is large and they're always walking around.
    I'm looking for some advice: do I try supplementing again (recommendations!!!), do I start him on bute, or wait and see how he improves when out to pasture (about 3 weeks until they're out full time).

    Any help appreciated

  • #2
    When was he last seen by a vet for the lameness?
    We have an older ex-event horse with bad hocks that is retired. This winter he got uncomfortable enough that we got him injected. Yes, alot of money for a retired horse but we owe it to them, don't we? And he was a bazillon percent better. Even trotting and cantering around his field now!!

    We had put him on bute before that but it didn't help. So I would really suggest getting your vet to look at him (and maybe x-rays) to see what will make him comfortable again.

    Good luck


    • #3
      Ditto. If you know what joint is causing the issue, just inject that joint. Better to target the exact problem than throw things at the whole horse that may or may not work.


      • #4
        Bute can also be a big help as a diagnostic aid. Most horses tolerate bute well. I know many school horses that get daily bute for many years. 35 years ago, I worked at a farm that had 2 of their horses on 4 grams per day.

        Other horses don't do well at all, so make sure you watch them closely at least for the first few weeks. Any signs of loose manure, and laying down when when they should not, or lip curling, etc should be a red flag.

        That said, he may just have something like an abscess, so definitely do some diagnostic work to see what is causing his pain.


        • #5
          I think I would get an evaluation. For arthritis my lameness vet does 1 to 2 grams of bute daily. My horse with a sugically fusing pastern is on previcoxx five days a week, he is generally mildly lame but acts quite pasture sound, trotting, cantering, bucking and playing with a prognoses to very slowly improve. If the arthritis is severe enough it could become bone on bone which can be extremely painful and tough to manage, so I would want radiographs to make a plan. You may consider chemical fusion if his coffin joint is in good shape. May give him several more pasture sound years. Good luck!


          • Original Poster

            Great suggestions, thanks. He will be having an assessment for sure.

            I thought of an abcess, but since this is his arthritic leg, I guess I assumed the worst. I was poking around his foot and he seemed fine. The farrier will be out shortly, so I will see what happens when he trims them. I should note this horse is barefoot and has been for the past 12 or so years.

            The last time he was seen for lameness was when he was diagnosed, in 2005. He was mildly unsound, and then only sometimes, off and on for a few months at a time. He was retired at the time, we noticed head bobbing in the pasture. Even while head-bobbing he rips around out there and is playful with his buddy, he doesn't seem to be in much pain. He has not progressively deteriorated since 2005, until this week, which is why I'm surprised at such a show of lameness. I'm wondering if he just has an injury...

            I have no knowledge of joint injections, except that they are expensive lol. I have been doing some reading to educate myself, mostly searching COTH. I don't know exact expenses, but I've heard rumblings, so please set me straight. I also read about the joint 'fusing' (good/bad?) and the varying frequencies of injection. But mostly I read that the horses are comfortable and able to still be ridden, which is positive.

            I really hesitate to inject this horse, as he's often totally (pasture) sound, and is never going to be ridden. I know some may frown upon this thought, but I'm being honest.

            Thanks for your help


            • #7
              Arthritis of the pastern joint can become quite painful in time and in the end stage some horses can become very painful and be almost impossible to manage as pasture sound as the pastern starts to collapse , at that stage injection are unlikely to make much difference, also I was told the pastern was a joint that sometimes responds really well to injections and sometimes doesn't respond at all. Fusing the joint can eliminate or greatly reduce the pain. But it does transfer the strain to the coffin joint so that joint is likely to develop arthritis. But depends, for pasture sound you may get several years of comfort. Some horses live many years happily with 1-2 grams of bute daily, or previcoxx is easier on the stomach.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by Fharoah View Post
                Arthritis of the pastern joint can become quite painful in time and in the end stage some horses can become very painful and be almost impossible to manage as pasture sound as the pastern starts to collapse , at that stage injection are unlikely to make much difference, also I was told the pastern was a joint that sometimes responds really well to injections and sometimes doesn't respond at all. Fusing the joint can eliminate or greatly reduce the pain. But it does transfer the strain to the coffin joint so that joint is likely to develop arthritis. But depends, for pasture sound you may get several years of comfort. Some horses live many years happily with 1-2 grams of bute daily, or previcoxx is easier on the stomach.
                This is the kind of info I'm looking for, thank you!