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What is MSM, and how does it benefit horses?

Posted by Jeff Swenson on
What is MSM, and how does it benefit horses?

Thanks to modern equine nutrition, many horses live extended and healthier lives into their 30s, making supplementing even more critical. Horse owners looking to maximize their horses' wellness should look at Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM. This all-natural dietary sulfur supplement is excellent for horses and has also been found to promote strength, speed, and increased flexibility when used correctly.

This article will look at the following:

  • What is MSM?
  • The 14 benefits of MSM for horses
  • Why you should Supplement your horse with MSM
  • How much MSM should a horse have per day?
  • What are the side effects of MSM supplements for horses?
  • Final thoughts
  • FAQs
  • Scientific References

What is MSM?

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM - (CH3 ) 2 SO2) is a naturally occurring organic compound in fresh and raw foods. It makes up 1/3 of sulfur by weight, which the body can easily absorb and use. This naturally occurring sulfur compound has been used in horse diets for many years and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It's commonly used to reduce joint pain and inflammation in horses and also plays a significant role in producing collagen necessary for healthy skin, coat, hooves, and strong joints. Supplementing with MSM can bring multiple benefits to horses: improved circulation, reduced muscle soreness, and better immune function - to name just a few.

Sulfur is also essential for forming glucosamine and collagen, both critical for supporting bones, ligaments, and tendons.

Sulfur is an essential element for a horse's body. It plays a critical role in connective tissues and cell regeneration. It is present in every cell and is necessary to form many other compounds, such as tissues, enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and antioxidants. MSM is a plentiful provider of easily-metabolized sulfur.

What benefits does MSM offer for horses?

Sulfur is an essential nutrient required for several biological functions in the horse's body, including the production of proteins, enzymes, and hormones. Methionine and Cysteine are two sulfur-containing amino acids vital for protein synthesis. However, these will be broken down to release their sulfur content when tissues require it, reducing their availability for protein synthesis. By adding MSM to the horse's diet, this additional source of sulfur can help replenish methionine and cysteine stores, making them more available for protein synthesis.

Aside from that, MSM has direct therapeutic effects, such as minimizing inflammation and oxidative stress, which contribute to healthy tissue maintenance. It may also help horses with allergies to dust, pollen, or molds breathe better by reducing heaves and other respiratory conditions.

MSM Benefits

  1. MSM helps protect tissues from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage can be compared to rust that forms on metal surfaces. Just as rust weakens the metal, oxidative damage weakens our cells and tissues, leading to aging and various health problems. MSM aids in muscle recovery following exercise. It is also believed to boost circulation, offering extra support for muscle recovery and helping keep your horse healthy. In other words, MSM can be considered a protective shield that guards your horse's body against harmful damage.
  2. MSM reduces post-workout inflammation, leading to quicker recovery and better performance.
  3. MSM has a pain-relieving effect, providing more comfort for heavily worked horses and contributing to their overall well-being.
  4. Adding MSM to your horse's diet can improve their gait and stride, making riding and walking more comfortable and enjoyable for you and your horse.
  5. The production of keratin, an essential protein for skin, hooves, and hair, can be aided by MSM. MSM can help enhance the health of your horse's skin and coat.
  6. MSM helps maintain an excellent respiratory system, particularly in horses susceptible to dust, pollen, or molds. Supplementation with MSM can assist in easing any breathing problems and aid in the prevention of heaves.
  7. Studies have shown that MSM can help regulate inflammation in the digestive system, making it a potential supplement for horses with digestive issues such as colic or ulcers. MSM has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the airways and support the body's natural defense against respiratory irritants.
  8. By promoting healthy joints and muscles, MSM can reduce the risk of injury in horses involved in athletic activities such as racing or jumping.
  9. MSM effectively alleviates joint pain associated with conditions such as hock arthritis. MSM can help prevent the development of arthritis by reducing tissue degeneration.
  10. MSM supports the immune system, enhances the healing of injuries, and aids in recovery during stress or sickness. Additionally, this supplement can act as an antioxidant, helping to detoxify dangerous heavy metals and consequently boosting overall health.
  11. MSM positively affects mood and behavior in horses, potentially reducing anxiety and improving overall temperament.
  12. MSM is vital to the body - it helps produce glutathione, a potent intracellular antioxidant. Glutathione is essential to detoxification and helps keep tissues healthy, especially when horses need extra support, such as exercise or illness.
  13. MSM can synthesize methionine and Cysteine, two essential amino acids that benefit horses. These include protection against radiation and removing heavy metals from the body. Cysteine is particularly important for collagen production, connective tissue repair, and fighting off free radicals, which can cause extensive damage to cells.
  14. Horses can keep their agility, athleticism, and flexibility even as they age with the help of connective tissues and collagen production. The quality and durability of these components can be maintained with MSM supplements.

Why you should Supplement your horse with MSM

Keeping a horse's mobility is paramount to their overall health, as they lead active lifestyles that involve running, racing, and showmanship. Problems with joints can impede these activities and make them difficult or impossible. MSM may be an effective supplement for your horse.

If your horse is experiencing arthritis or joint pain, MSM may be beneficial. Be aware of the following potential symptoms of arthritis, and consider supplementing the diet of your horse with MSM:

  • Warmth or pain in a joint
  • Puffiness around a joint, particularly the hocks
  • Changes in how the horse moves; might have a shortened stride, walk with a hollow back and raised head
  • Your horse needs a longer time to warm up and not be stiff.
  • Resistant to performing tasks that were previously easy to do

MSM can be a beneficial addition to the diet of your horse for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Improving respiratory health, particularly for horses with allergies, coughing, or poor breathing
  • It can help you avoid the use of steroids to manage inflammation and other related issues
  • Supporting your horse during periods of stress, such as transportation, competition, and heavy training
  • Can provide relief for horses with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Supplementing your horse's diet with MSM is a great way to support the body's natural ability to produce healthy connective tissues, reduce joint stiffness and soreness, and can contribute to overall body health.

How much MSM should a horse have per day?

MSM recommended doses differ, with some packaging or veterinary sources suggesting a recommended daily dosage of (7-36g) or (2 grams) of MSM per 100 kg of body weight for horses and ponies.

A thorough study by Riegel #1 (2001) found that (20g) of MSM had a more substantial effect on Standardbreds than (10g). Horses given 20g daily exhibited faster race times, muscle recovery, and improved appetite and hoof growth. This dose served as a loading dose for six weeks before returning to (10g) as a maintenance dose without resulting in any regressions or side effects. Even higher doses were suggested for further investigation.

Long-term MSM use is recommended by Australian expert Sharon May Davis #2 for performance horses. For a 500kg horse in regular work or a 450kg horse in heavy training, she suggests taking a rounded tablespoon (18g) of MSM in the morning and evening. To prevent digestive discomfort, a lower dose of one teaspoon (5g) is advised, increasing over a month to reach the total dose. Other factors, such as rider  and average horse weight, equestrian discipline, and training hours, are considered when deciding the dosage.

Other studies #4 on jumping horses have shown that a combination of (8g) of MSM and (5g) of Vitamin C daily can benefit exercise recovery. This regimen should be taken before a competition and continued up until the end of the competition.

It's important to note that the average horse body weight requires a larger dose of MSM than cats and other smaller animals, so consult your vet for recommended dosages before feeding or supplementing with MSM. Pure MSM is available in both powder form and liquid form.

MSM for Horses:

According to specific sources, a recommended dosage of (2 grams) of MSM per 100kg of body weight is continuously suggested for horses and ponies.

Studies have demonstrated that the daily dose of (20g) of MSM can provide anti-inflammatory benefits; this could be taken as a loading dose, with maintenance doses then reduced to (10g) per day after improvement has been observed. However, this large first serving can "jumpstart" the horse's absorption of the MSM. 

It's often asked if combining MSM with glucosamine is safe. It may also offer additional benefits for maintaining healthy joints and hooves - research shows a synergistic effect when these supplements are used together. Equine-Tan Label Joint Support Pellets from Formula 1 Noni combine these necessary supplements in pellets with other essential nutrients, making them an excellent choice for all horse owners looking to ensure their animal's health.

MSM for Dogs:

It is essential to check with your veterinarian as dogs vary in size and activity. When supplementing large dogs with MSM capsules of 500mg, it is recommended to administer one tablet per day for every 20 lbs of body weight. If more than one capsule is needed, it should be split between the morning and evening administrations.

An outline for dog dosage

  • Dog weight up to 10lbs less than 500mg MSM or less than 1/8 teaspoon
  • Dog weight up to 11 to 20lbs is 500mg MSM or 1/8 teaspoon
  • Dog weight up to 21 to 40lbs is 1000mg MSM or 1/4 teaspoon
  • Dog weight up to 41 to 60lbs is 2000mg MSM or 1/2 teaspoon
  • Dog weight up to 61 to 80lbs is 3000mg MSM or 3/4 teaspoon
  • Dog weight up to 81 to 100lbs is 4000mg MSM or 1 teaspoon
  • Dog weight up to over 100lbs is 5000mg MSM or 1 1/4 teaspoon

What are the side effects of MSM supplements for horses?

MSM supplement for horses is a safe and natural way to support joint health, body weight, and overall mobility. It can bring multiple benefits to horses, including improved circulation, reduced muscle soreness, better immune function, and even healthier skin, coat, hooves, and joint mobility. However, like with any supplement or medication, some side effects may occur when supplementing with MSM.

MSM's most common side effects are mild gastrointestinal distress and loose stools, which usually resolve within a few days. Other less common side effects may include skin rashes and itching, although these are rarely seen. As with any supplement or medication, you must check with your veterinarian before adding MSM to your horse's diet.

How MSM Improves circulation, reduces soreness, and provides joint support.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a natural sulfur-containing compound in some plants, animals, and humans. It has been suggested to protect tissues from oxidative damage by acting as an antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals or ROS, thereby preventing or slowing down oxidative damage to cells and tissues, helping reduce joint pain and inflammation, and improving joint health. Here are some potential benefits of MSM for circulation, soreness, and joint support:

  • Promoting healthy blood vessels.
  • Increase the amount of oxygen delivered to tissues, aiding recovery and decreasing inflammation.
  • MSM helps reduce soreness and stiffness in horses by decreasing inflammation.
  • Joint health promotes healthy connective tissue.
  • It helps promote collagen formation and other proteins necessary for joint health.
  • MSM has been demonstrated to have antioxidant properties, potentially protecting joint tissues from harm.

Final thoughts

MSM can assist in giving horses better support to move more freely and participate in the activities they enjoy. Issues with joints can impede a horse's ability to run, compete, or show; MSM may help alleviate these issues and give them greater mobility overall.


What does MSM do for a horse?

MSM is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help reduce inflammation in a horse's body, particularly its joints. This benefits horses prone to joint stiffness or discomfort due to heavy work or exercise. MSM can also help reduce joint pain, as it helps to create healthy connective tissues around the joints. This makes it an excellent supplement for horses with arthritis or joint pain due to load-bearing body weight.

Is MSM an anti-inflammatory for horses?

Absolutely! MSM, or Methylsulfonylmethane, is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in both plants and animals - and it's been used to reduce joint pain and inflammation in horses for many years. It's also a key component in producing collagen necessary for healthy skin, hooves, and joints. Supplementing with MSM can benefit horses, including improved circulation, reduced muscle soreness, and improved immune function.

What is the best MSM for horses?

When choosing an MSM supplement for horses, looking for a high-quality product that is pure, bioavailable, and free from contaminants is essential. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an MSM supplement for horses:

  1. Purity: Look for a pure MSM product without added fillers or additives.
  2. Quality: Choose a reputable brand with a track record of producing high-quality supplements.
  3. Bioavailability: Choose a highly bioavailable MSM supplement, meaning it is easily absorbed and utilized by the horse's body.
  4. Dosage: Ensure the product provides a safe and effective dosage for your horse.
  5. Price: Compare prices and choose a product that offers good value for money.

Is MSM good for horses' joints?

Yes, MSM is excellent for horses' joints. It has long been used in equine diets to promote joint health, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to enhance circulation. MSM can also aid in reducing muscle soreness and boosting immune function. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in collagen production, essential for maintaining healthy skin, coat, hooves, and joints. Therefore, MSM supports horses in several ways, including stabilizing joint health, maintaining body weight, promoting healthy connective tissue, reducing muscle soreness, and assisting your horse in its recovery from activities or stress.

Is MSM or glucosamine better for horses?

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) and glucosamine have different roles in promoting joint horse health. MSM is a natural sulfur compound with anti-inflammatory properties and helps produce collagen, which is a key component for a healthy horse. Meanwhile, glucosamine serves as a building block of cartilage and helps keep joints functioning properly.

Depending on their condition and needs, different horses may benefit from either one or both of these supplements. In some cases, the most effective joint health regimen may be combining MSM and glucosamine.

Should I give my horse MSM?

Yes, you should consider giving your horse MSM as a supplement to their diet. MSM is an active ingredient found in many joint health supplements for horses and is known to help support body weight and healthy joints and reduce inflammation and sore muscles. It can also play a key role in supporting the body's natural connective tissues – such as tendons, ligaments, and cartilage – to aid mobility and flexibility.

Scientific References:

#1 Riegel, C. (n.d.). MSM Helps Sore Muscles. Retrieved from

#2 Davis, S. M. (2015). Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) for Horses. Retrieved from

#3 Mayfield Barehoof Care Centre. (2015). Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) for Horses. Retrieved from

#4 Marañón, G., Muñoz-Escassi, B., Manley, W., García, C., Cayado, P., de la Muela, M. S., ... & Castejón, F. (2008). The effect of methyl sulphonyl methane supplementation on biomarkers of oxidative stress in sport horses following jumping exercise. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 50(1), 45. Retrieved from

Usha, P. R., & Naidu, M. U. R. (2004). Randomized, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clinical Drug Investigation, 24(6), 353-363. Retrieved from

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