- Best Trait = product quality standards
- Worst Trait = vague feeding directions
Consider this product if…
- You are looking for a safe, high quality, joint supplement for your active horse.
- Your horse has a condition that requires minimizing damage caused by joint inflammation.
- Company integrity, transparency, and product quality control are important to you.
Why Review this Product?
Joint supplements are the most ubiquitous horse supplements available on the market today. According to survey results published in 2017, over one third of all equine supplement sales are for joint protective products (Swirsley et al., 2017). Sifting through the plethora of products available is worse than finding a needle in a haystack, and that doesn’t even start to consider the confounding research findings! The list of ingredients and combinations of ingredients is endless, so for this review, I’m going to narrow my search down to joint supplements that meet the following criteria…
- Ingredients have been researched in horses and show positive results.
- It’s a company that I’ve heard of and has been around for a while.
- Contains at least 5,000 mg of glucosamine (any form)
- Contains chondroitin sulfate
- Contains methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
The American Association of Equine Practitioners has a WONDERFUl website that I’d like to LINK HERE titled “Joint Health Supplements: Information and How to Read a Product Label“. The AAEP suggests a very similar methodology to Rate My Horse Supplement when reviewing joint supplements, so I will refrain from duplicating that information here.
Company Information & Communication
Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Sciences, Inc. has developed and maintained a high quality reputation in the joint supplement arena for three decades. Since my first joint supplement search nearly 20 years ago, the Cosequin products seemed to filter out from the rest for all the reasons that OCEN gives companies high ratings; company integrity, quality control, communication, and above bar standards.
I sent several tough questions to Nutramax Labs and received a thoughtful reply within 24 hours from their Senior Veterinary Product Technical Specialist. It brightens my day to hear from companies that are really proud of their product quality control and that really came through in the answers. It speaks VOLUMES! I will list some highlights here…
- Their trademark ingredients have never been recalled
- Company standards include over 80 quality checks
- Checks include ingredients when they arrive all the way through finished product going out
- Recognized in 2020 by the U.S. Department of Commerce
- Facilities follow Good Manufacturing Practices and Standard Operating Procedures outlined by HACCP
I was curious about the claim that Cosequin is the #1 recommended joint health supplement by veterinarians. When asked when that survey was last conducted, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was updated just two years ago and plans to be conducted again in 2021. I was also happy to hear that the credentials of the creator and current leadership are honorable. I give Cosequin joint products a full five stars for company information and communication.
Sadly, I must remain consistent, and give Cosequin only two stars for feeding directions. Like too many supplements on the market today, there is very little guidance to horse owners how much product should be fed depending on size, activity level, age and/or severity of disease. Whether this is a sign of poor ingredient research or sheer laziness, I’m not sure, but it does not make sense to feed a 650 pound pony the same dosage as a 1,300 pound elite sport horse.
I chose to review Cosequin® Optimized with MSM due to the combination of three ingredients; glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. A sizable body of evidence now exists to support the claims made for these ingredients given orally to humans and animals. I have decided to NOT follow that rabbit hole of research in this review. If curious, you can review the references cited in the AAEP link above or type in “glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate” in Google Scholar. On Course Equine Nutrition maintains that these products will likely not harm, could possibly help, and will do damage to your bank account over time. As always, I suggest that you write down EXACTLY the results you’d like to see and find a way to measure those results before making your first supplement purchase.
One scoop (16.5 grams) of Cosequin® Optimized with MSM will provide 7,200 mg of Glucosamine Hydrochloride, 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulfate, and 5,000 mg of methylsulfonylmethane. These values are generous per serving. I appreciate the superscript note that the glucosamine and chondroitin sources may contain up to 10% moisture so that we can take that into consideration.
The cost of 1400 gram bucket of Cosequin® Optimized with MSM is $109 on multiple websites such as Valley Vet and SmartPak. Since 1 scoop is the standard dose for a 1,000 lb horse in moderate work, you will pay $1.30 per scoop. For a joint supplement with greater than 5,000 mg/serving of glucosamine with very high quality standards from a reputable company, I think that this is a very fair price. *See reviews of Next Level by Farnam and Flex+Max by Absorbine for comparison. Another way to think about it is that you would spend 19 cents per 1,000 mg of glucosamine per day. This is half the cost per 1,000 mg of glucosamine compared to other similar products.
Cosequin products are my first choice for personal use and top recommendation when joint supplementation is warranted. I trust the company’s quality control standards, I appreciate their professional correspondence, and believe that they provide a great value for the price.
Rate My Horse Supplement attempts to make clear that company integrity and product quality control are two primary factors in choosing a supplement in any category. At the end of the day, due to lack of third party regulation, it is up to supplement companies to provide us with safe products that have what they say they have. I have decided to scrap all the “he said/she said” research rumblings and tell you about this one study: “Analysis of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate Content in Marketed Products and the Caco-2 Permeability of Chondroitin Sulfate Raw Materials” by a team of researchers at the University of Maryland’s Pharmacokinetics-Biopharmaceutics Laboratory. This paper, published in 2000, analyzed 14 glucosamine and chondroitin products off the shelves and compared the label claims to the actual amount of ingredient found. You will be shocked at their findings. Please consider reading the DISCUSSION section on pages 6 and 7.
Adebowale, A.O., Cox, D.S., Liang, Z. and Eddington, N.D., 2000. Analysis of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate content in marketed products and the Caco-2 permeability of chondroitin sulfate raw materials. J Am Nutraceutical Assoc, 3(1), pp.37-44.
Swirsley N., H.S. Spooner, and R.M. Hoffman. 2017. Supplement Use and Perceptions: A Study of US Horse Owners. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Volume 59:34-39. ISSN 0737-0806.