Supplements and joint health have always been major points of conversation in every equine circle—especially when the topic of Bute (phenylbutazone) comes up, and how some horses “are always on it.” What’s healthy and good for the equine body, and what’s not? We brought this up with our featured veterinarian, Dr. Tracy Turner, who specializes in equine lameness, to hear his professional opinion.
“You have to put oil and gas in your car to keep it running, right? Well, you have to do the same for a horse, but it’s a bit more complicated,” states Turner. “These days, the nutrients are typically depleted in grass and soil, plus water can be somewhat polluted. Therefore, providing supplements that aid in the biochemistry and amino acids that support the building blocks for the body to function well will only help the horse, aka make the machine work more efficiently. Nutritional supplements with natural ingredients are great to provide to horses; however, they really do need to be on them consistently for six months to see a real difference. I suggest taking ‘before and after’ photos to compare their body condition.
“When I hear horse owners say their horses are on Bute every day, I tend to ask ‘Would you take Advil or ibuprofen every day?’ I would hope they would say no, because it is not healthy for your body if taken long-term. Eventually you’ll think it’s not working and take more; then it’s still not good. When you need it, yes, it’s good for you in short time spans. That is how I tend to view inflammation with horses,” he says.
“For body functionality for the horse that has some issues and needs a low level of anti-inflammatory for everyday use to be comfortable, nonsteroidals every day can create problems medically if taken long-term,” Turner explains. “When you really need it, for a short time, use the nonsteroidal in short time spurts. That’s completely OK and why we have them.
“But for the horses that need long-term support with inflammation, if I can provide that to them with a more natural, plant-based product with less metabolic interference, I’m going to choose that. I would recommend products that have clean ingredients such as yucca, boswellia, B12, devil’s claw, curcumin and MSM. All of these have great qualities that stimulate circulation, improve digestion and help relieve inflammation related to joint pain.
“If you’re looking for more specific joint support, looks for key ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid (HA). Absorbine actually make a product that I have started using on some of my horses that need inflammation relief on a daily basis. It seems to work well for them; it’s called Bute-Less. They have a show-safe version of it, as well, for those that are competing,” states Turner.
Finally, he concludes, “I also really like when a company puts their money where their mouth is and provides clinical research about their products and the ingredients within them. You see magazines with claims every day, but look and read the research available. That says a lot about their dedication to efficacy and standing behind their products.”
If you would like to go down the rabbit hole to learn how each of these key ingredients work, check out the recent article “Supporting Equine Mobility: What’s in your Nutraceutical?”
Safe and Healthy Options for Your Horse
When looking inflammation relief and is still safe for everyday use, consider Absorbine’s Bute-Less® supplement. It is this blend of natural ingredients that makes Bute-Less so effective in providing long-term comfort. It is also gentle on the stomach so you can give it daily without worry. For those that compete on a regular basis or need additional support, check out Bute-Less® Performance. It is a curcumin-based formula, contains no substances currently prohibited by the USEF or FEI, and is still a healthy option for your horse that is gentle on the stomach. Bute-Less Performance is made with a patented curcumin that is 65x more bioavailable than unformulated curcumin, this means it starts working faster to provide relief. Check out this Bute-Less Performance pharmacokinetics study showing the curcumin reaches the blood stream in hours.
If your horse needs a little more specific joint health support, consider Absorbine’s Flex+Max® Joint Health Supplement. Its highly effective formula, with guaranteed levels of chondroitin and glucosamine, can give you peace of mind that your horse is actually getting what he needs for his joints. It also contains HA, MSM and boswellia serrata to provide additional joint support. Visit www.FlexMaxPlus.com for more information.
To read more about the topics that Dr. Turner covers, click here.