Call us 24/7 - 1-800-461-8898

Using Oral Joint Supplements with Injectable Joint Medications

I have a wonderful vet who just put my horse on Adequan which I am very happy about. My only question is can I now stop with oral joint supplements, this can be very costly. Thanks CS, Florida

Dear CS,

I agree, having a horse on both oral and injectable joint support can get expensive. However, I may be able to explain the differences between the two approaches as well as proper use of each to help you maximize the benefits while minimizing the costs.

Adequan® I.M. is the only disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug on the market approved by the FDA for the treatment of non-infectious degenerative joint disease. It contains polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, a naturally-occurring complex molecule that is the essential building block of the cartilage matrix. It travels into injured joints and stimulates production of new cartilage while relieving the symptoms of non-infectious DJD.

The really important thing to understand about Adequan is that it MUST be given just like it says on the package, which is one 500mg intramuscular injection once every four days for seven treatments. This is the only dose that has been proven to reverse the effects of degenerative joint disease. There is no official maintenance dose from the company such as once-a-month injections. Once-a-month dosing will offer relief for a four day period but is unable to reestablish the cartilage that has degraded from training, conformation or age-related changes. A more effective regime both in terms of cost and benefit to the joints would be a seven dose series twice a year to address DJD that is ongoing.

That is where oral joint supplements come in! Daily supplementation with hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate (a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) and glucosamine can help keep the building blocks of healthy joint tissue available when needed. Research has shown not only that all three ingredients are absorbed by the horse but also appear in significant amounts in joint tissue. A study by Martha Rodgers that appeared in Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. Vol 4, No 2, 2006, pp155-162 concluded that “consistent use of an oral glucosamine/chondroitin supplement resulted in a decreased need for distal tarsal joint injections to maintain soundness in a group of show hunters/jumpers.”

Now, this particular study refers to the injection of hyaluronic acid and or steroids directly into the joints, but what it says to me is that there is a place for both types of joint support in the horse: daily oral supplementation and injectable medication. Just make sure you give the oral joint supplement on a consistent, daily basis to maintain optimum levels of active ingredients in the body (SmartPaks are great for this!). As always, follow the manufacturer’s directions on the proper use of injectable joint medication. I hope that with this combined approach to joint health you are able to enjoy your horse for many years to come!

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Tagged with:
Posted in Ask the Vet, Basic Health Care, Misc. Topics

Recent Posts

6 comments on “Using Oral Joint Supplements with Injectable Joint Medications
  1. Anne says:

    What are the recommended daily doses of hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, and glucosamine that should be administered orally via a supplement for best effect?

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Anne, there are so many different variables that affect what levels your horse should receive for best results such as age, workload, any history of injury, etc. For that reason unfortunately there is no simple answer to your question. However if you’d like help choosing a joint supplement with the right levels, please feel free to call us at 1-888-752-5171 or check out our online SmartFlex Finder below.


  2. Stephany says:

    Have you ever heard of ICHON, from Kinetic Vet ( It is another injectible, much, much less costly than Adequan…and you will see the results, trust me. I put my 13 y/o Appendix gelding who suffers terribly from arthritis due to an old injury on his near side front. He hardly limps or favors that side now, got his pep back in his step, and wants to go, go, go! I use joint pain management daily with B&L Pellets. He is virtually pain free and No Side effects!

    • Jamie says:

      How did you administer the Ichon? Was it like the adequan with an injection every 4 days for 28 days then a monthly dose ? I just purchased it am I am awaiting the arrival . How quickly did you see results ?
      Thank you !!

  3. Emili says:

    Are Horse Raisin Has 2 inflamed knees. We don’t know what else to do for her. We done grain after grain, nothing works. We need to know what we can use that will stick and work. She a QH 15.00hh, 17 years old.

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Emili – Thank you for your question! We encourage you to have your veterinarian examine this mare and prescribe a complete regimen of care that will bring her comfort. Most likely the program will include a variety of therapies including injectable medications, oral joint supplements, prescription and natural pain relievers, corrective trimming/shoeing, and physical therapy such as topical products, bandaging and cold/heat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Share it:
You'll this

SmartCombo™ Senior Pellets

As Low As: $57.95
(267 reviews)
Healthy Horses  ❤  Happy Riders