MSM for Horses

Methyl Sulphonyl Methane, aka MSM, is a supplement that many horse owners may be familiar with but they may not know all of its benefits.   I’ve fed MSM in the past to maintain joint health in my barrel horse, but like several things I’ve tried over the years, it eventually fell to the wayside.

Last fall however, after doing some research on equine skin allergies,  I decided to supplement MSM again.  Lee Lee had become very itchy last summer and I knew that diet was likely a factor.  I decided to add MSM, ground flaxseed, and for a month or so, organic soybean oil (for it’s ‘cooling’ effect, according to TCM) to her diet.

I can’t be certain if it was just one or a combination of these supplements that made a difference, but something certainly did.  Her coat became shiny once again and she stopped rubbing on every darn thing she could find.

Skin allergies are just one of several issues that MSM is said to benefit.  If your horse is itchy and nothing else has worked, you may want to give it a try.

Here is a little background information on MSM. . .

MSM is a naturally-occurring sulfur compound which contains anti-oxidant properties. It is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and fresh forage.  It is also found naturally in the horse’s body (as well as in all vertebrates) in small amounts.  In the body, MSM splits into methionine and cysteine, two important amino acids.

The supplement, MSM, is derived from DMSO or dimethylsulfoxide, and is commonly used in the horse industry to combat inflammation.  It’s a white, salt-like substance that horses seem to find palatable and it’s fairly inexpensive as far as supplements go.

While it’s not completely clear how MSM works in the body, it is a great source of dietary sulfur, which plays an important role in maintaining the health of collagen, cartilage, hooves, hair, and joint fluid.

MSM is also said to have the following effects:

  • Prevent/ reducing scar tissue;
  • Promote muscle relaxation;
  • Reduce inflammation and promote circulation;
  • Analgesic (pain-killing);
  • Promote healthy hoof and hair growth;
  • Reduce joint degeneration;
  • Chelate or bind harmful heavy metals in the body; and
  • Boost the immune system.

Some of these effects have been documented in studies, while others are more hearsay among horse folks.  You may just have to try feeding MSM to see if your horse’s issues respond to it.



The dosage of MSM will vary depending on the specific supplement you buy –always read the labels.  MSM is also often added to other joint supplements such as chondroitin sulfate so that’s another option if you’re looking specifically for a joint supplement.  This is the one that I am currently feeding and it contains only MSM.




If your horse is already getting plenty of fresh green grass (or fresh veggies!) in his diet, then you may not need to worry about supplementing MSM.  Horses on all or mostly-hay diet or those in hard work or suffering from skin allergies may just benefit from supplemental MSM though.  It’s worth taking a look at, anyways.





Sources and Further Reading:

The effect of methyl sulphonyl methane supplementation on biomarkers of oxidative stress in sport horses following jumping exercise (research paper)

MSM Helps Sore Muscles



Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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3 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    Actually, it is quite well studied how msm works in the body and essentially its function is to make the membrane of every cell more malleable so that each and every cell can absorb nutrients and expel waste AND toxins more efficiently, improving cell function. A small and easy to understand pamphlet called”The MSM Miracle” is widely available at many health food stores and I recommend reading and understanding just how wonderful this natural element is. Everyone gets it at my house and personally I can tell you that the first thing you will notice is healthier joints, both in mobility and pain relief. Sulphur is an essential requirement and water soluble so depending on how your food is grown, can be lacking. Supplementing it is cheap and easy and beneficial for people, dogs and horses.

  2. Jody Webb says:

    Quality of MSM is also important. Cheap brands have fillers and the seller is not required to put it on the label. If it clumps, its pure MSM, if it doesnt clump (ie doesnt form clumpy balls over time) it has fillers in it. You get less bang for your buck that way. Its also important to stick with brands made in the USA (not, say, India or China) as they are not regulated the same as USA companies.

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