A Guide to Inflammation in Horses 

Inflammation in horses can arise from a variety of causes, ranging from acute injuries and infections to chronic diseases and environmental factors. Proper veterinary care, management practices and preventive measures are essential for identifying and addressing the underlying causes of inflammation and promoting the health and well-being of horses. 

Taking proactive measures in management is often the best course to prevent inflammation. Let’s look at what causes inflammation and how you can provide optimal well-being for your horses. 

Causes of Inflammation in Horses 

Inflammation in horses can be triggered by various factors, including injuries, infections, diseases and environmental stressors. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to tissue injury or irritation and is characterized by redness, swelling, heat, pain and loss of function. Here are some common causes of inflammation in horses: 

1. Injuries & Infections 

Traumatic injuries, such as cuts, bruises, sprains, strains, fractures and puncture wounds, can lead to inflammation in horses. The body’s inflammatory response helps initiate the healing process by recruiting immune cells and repairing damaged tissues at the site of injury. 

Bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections can trigger inflammatory responses in horses. Common infectious diseases that cause inflammation include respiratory infections (influenza, strangles), skin infections (dermatitis, cellulitis), gastrointestinal infections (colitis, salmonellosis) and reproductive tract infections (metritis, vaginitis). 

2. Immune-Mediated Diseases 

Autoimmune disorders and immune-mediated diseases can result in chronic inflammation in horses. Conditions such as equine recurrent uveitis (moon blindness), equine asthma (heaves) and autoimmune skin diseases, such as pemphigus foliaceus, involve dysregulated immune responses that lead to inflammation and tissue damage. 

3. Degenerative Joint Disease 

Degenerative joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease (DJD), can cause inflammation in horses’ joints. Chronic wear and tear, repetitive stress and age-related changes in joint cartilage and synovial fluid contribute to joint inflammation, pain and stiffness. 

Joint diseases are often common in sport and performance horses, leading to joint inflammation. 

4. Gastrointestinal Disorders 

Gastrointestinal disorders, such as colic, gastric ulcers and enteritis, can result in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract in horses. Inflammation of the digestive tract lining can impair nutrient absorption, disrupt digestive function and cause abdominal pain and discomfort. 

5. Environmental Allergens 

Horses may develop allergic reactions to environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust mites mold spores and insect bites. Allergic responses can trigger inflammation in the skin, respiratory tract and other tissues, leading to hives, allergic dermatitis or respiratory allergies. 

6. Overexertion and Exercise-Induced Inflammation 

Intense exercise, overexertion and repetitive strain can cause microtrauma to muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues in horses. This can result in exercise-induced inflammation, soreness, and muscle fatigue, especially during strenuous activities or competitions. 

7. Metabolic Disorders 

Metabolic disorders, such as equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) and pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID, or Cushing’s disease), can predispose horses to chronic inflammation and increased susceptibility to infections and other health problems. 

Now that we know what causes inflammation, let’s explore various prevention strategies and horse inflammation treatment options.  

Take Proactive Preventative Measures 

Preventing inflammation in horses involves a combination of proactive management practices, proper nutrition, regular veterinary care and minimizing exposure to risk factors. While it may not always be possible to prevent inflammation entirely, implementing the following strategies can help reduce the likelihood and severity of inflammation in horses: 

1. Maintain Proper Nutrition 

Feed horses a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs based on age, breed, activity level and health status. Ensure access to clean, fresh water, high-quality forage and appropriate concentrate feeds.  

Consider supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and support overall health. 

2. Manage Weight and Body Condition 

Maintain horses at an ideal body condition score (BCS) to reduce the risk of obesity-related inflammation and metabolic disorders. Implement a regular exercise program tailored to the horse’s fitness level and workload to promote musculoskeletal health and cardiovascular fitness. 

Adjust feeding and exercise regimens as needed to prevent excessive weight gain or loss. 

3. Implement Good Hoof Care 

Schedule regular hoof care appointments with a qualified farrier to maintain proper hoof balance, trim excess hoof growth and address any hoof-related issues promptly. Proper hoof care helps prevent lameness, foot-related inflammation, and musculoskeletal issues resulting from poor hoof conformation or improper trimming. 

4. Provide Adequate Turnout and Exercise 

Allow horses ample turnout time in safe, spacious paddocks or pastures to encourage natural movement, grazing behavior and social interaction. Establish a consistent exercise program tailored to the horse’s fitness level and workload. Regular exercise helps maintain musculoskeletal health, joint flexibility and cardiovascular fitness, reducing the risk of inflammation and injury. 

5. Manage Environmental Stressors 

Minimize exposure to environmental stressors that can trigger inflammation, like extreme temperatures, wet or muddy conditions, poor ventilation and exposure to allergens or irritants. Provide adequate shelter, ventilation and protection from weather extremes to promote comfort and well-being. 

6. Practice Good Parasite Control 

It’s important to develop a comprehensive parasite control program in consultation with a veterinarian. This will enable you to manage internal and external parasites effectively. Regular deworming, fecal egg counts, pasture management and rotational grazing help reduce parasite burdens and minimize the risk of parasitic-related inflammation in horses. 

7. Monitor and Address Dental Health 

Schedule regular dental exams and dental care to maintain proper dental health and prevent issues such as dental abnormalities, sharp enamel points, and periodontal disease. Address any dental abnormalities or issues promptly.  

Proper dental health promotes effective chewing, digestion, and nutrient absorption, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal inflammation and discomfort. 

8. Promote Proper Joint Health 

Incorporate joint supplements containing ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid to support joint health and reduce the risk of inflammation and degenerative joint diseases. Consider incorporating preventive measures such as joint injections or oral medications as recommended by your veterinarian for horses at risk of joint issues. 

9. Provide Routine Veterinary Care 

Schedule regular wellness exams, vaccinations and preventive healthcare measures with a veterinarian experienced in equine medicine. Early detection and treatment of health issues, such as infections, metabolic disorders and lameness, can help prevent inflammation and mitigate the risk of more serious complications. 

10. Implement Proper Training and Handling Practices 

Use gentle, consistent training methods and handle horses with care and respect to minimize stress and reduce the risk of behavioral-related inflammation in horses. Avoid overexertion, repetitive strain and excessive stress during training sessions or competitions. 

By executing these preventive measures and maintaining a proactive approach to horse care, owners and caretakers can help reduce the risk of inflammation. Additionally, they promote overall health and well-being and optimize the performance and longevity of their equine companions. Regular monitoring, attention to detail and collaboration with a trusted equine veterinarian are essential for identifying and addressing potential health concerns promptly. 

Oral Products May Help Reduce Occasional Inflammation in Horses 

Hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin are all compounds commonly used as oral products to support joint health and help reduce inflammation in horses due to exercise, training and competition. While they are often used together, they have distinct roles and modes of action. 

Hyaluronic Acid 

Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found in the synovial fluid and connective tissues of joints. It plays a crucial role in lubricating and cushioning the joints, reducing friction between bone, and absorbing shock during movement. 

Hyaluronic acid is used to help maintain joint hydration, support joint mobility and alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis, a cause of inflammation in horses. It also supports the health and integrity of cartilage and other soft tissue. 

Hyaluronic acid is commonly available as an oral supplement or as an injectable preparation for intra-articular administration. When fed as a liquid, it is very well absorbed and can be used readily by the horse. 


Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that serves as a building block for the synthesis of cartilage, ligaments, tendons and other connective tissues in the body. It plays a vital role in maintaining the structural integrity and elasticity of joint tissues. 

Glucosamine is used to support cartilage repair and regeneration, reduce inflammation and alleviate joint pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. 

Glucosamine supplements are typically derived from shellfish shells or plant sources and are available in oral formulations like tablets, capsules and liquid preparations.  


Chondroitin sulfate is a complex carbohydrate molecule that is naturally present in cartilage and other connective tissues. It may help maintain cartilage structure, elasticity and shock-absorbing properties within the joints. 

The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin has been well researched. Results show that it may provide benefit to some horses (and humans), while not being as effective for others. 

While hyaluronic acid helps lubricate and cushion the joints, glucosamine and chondroitin support cartilage structure, repair and regeneration. When used together, these compounds can provide comprehensive support for joint health and yield results superior to that of using glucosamine and/or chondroitin alone.  

Vitalize Can Help 

At BioZyme®, we know how important joint health is to all species. Therefore, we utilize the gold standard of hyaluronic acid (HA) – MHB3® Hyaluronan. MHB3 is a primary ingredient in Vitalize® Hyaluronex® Joint for horses. 

Vitalize Hyaluronex Joint is a liquid product for horses designed to support sustainable soundness using hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. Hyaluronex Joint helps maintain a normal inflammatory response and supports normal exercise recovery. It supports bone, joint and soft tissue health. But most importantly, it contains MHB3, a high molecular weight hyaluronic acid that holds 8 U.S. Patents. 

What Makes MHB3 Different? 

Yes, there are many hyaluronic acids on the market. However, what makes MHB3 unique is its liquid formulation. Because HA molecules are extremely water-loving, they can hold up to 1,000 times their weight in water. Dry forms of HA (pills, tablets, capsules & powders) do not have enough time to fully hydrate before being passed through the body’s digestive tract. Essentially, the body struggles to absorb dry forms, making them much less effective.  

The primary absorption points for HA throughout the body are in the mucosal tissue of the mouth and the upper parts of the throat. To take advantage of the absorption points, the product must be bioavailable for immediate absorption as soon as it hits your horse’s mouth.  

Giving your horses just two pumps of Vitalize Hyaluronex per day may help reduce inflammation in horses due to exercise, training and competition. Support a normal inflammatory response with Hyaluronex Joint and give your horses the joint support they need and deserve. 

Our Customers Give Vitalize Hyaluronex Joint Rave Reviews 

From California 

“I saw a difference in Bob when I started using Hyaluronex® Joint. He wasn’t unsound, but it literally changed his gait. He became a lot lighter on his feet, a lot more fluid in the shoulder. I was able to see the difference and was really pleased.” – Elyse Hart, Dressage Rider 

From Colorado 

“My horses really like Hyaluronex® Joint. They are doing awesome on it. It’s easy to feed; I just squirt it on their hay or cubes, and they eat it right up. They haven’t missed a beat and we’ve had an awesome summer. I’m so glad to be part of your team.” – Trey Yates, Team Roper 

From Kentucky 

“I watched how 25-year-old horses seemed so sound and healthy on the Vitalize® products at a retirement barn I worked at, and that prompted me to try Vitalize Alimend® and Hyaluronex® Joint on my own mares – a 5-year-old just starting her career and a 15-year-old who has been in heavy work for over a decade. One of the coolest things I saw was my older mare’s stride got longer and her walk improved. For an Amish pony-turned-eventer-turned-dressage-pony, her feeling her absolute best at 15 says a lot!” – Shoshana Rudski, Eventer, Dressage Rider, Trainer 

Give your Horses Vitalize for their Joints Today 

Vitalize is no stranger to the stable. Its flagship products are known to give horses #agoodgutfeeling, with the research-proven prebiotic AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, and offer proven solutions to keep your partner healthy and performing. 

Get your Hyaluronex Joint and other Vitalize products from your local BioZyme dealer, or wherever Vitalize products are sold. 

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