Monday, July 15, 2024

Natural Lyme Treatment For Horses

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Equine Lyme Disease Vaccine

No. 109. Joyce Harman DVM, holistic veterinarian discusses Lyme Disease in Horses

Currently, there is no approved vaccine to prevent Lyme in horses. However, some off-label dog tick vaccines have shown favorable results in protecting ponies from Lyme disease. A lot of research is still needed on this. Also the cost of transporting or gaining approval for such a vaccine, if it is made, could be phenomenal. The best you can do for your horse is protect it from tick bites.

Advantages Of The Equine Lyme Multiplex Assay

The Equine Lyme Multiplex Assay is available only at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University. It combines the results obtained by previous ELISA and Western blot testing and exceeds the information obtained by tests that are based on a single antigen of B. burgdorferi such as C6. The Lyme Multiplex Assay provides information whether the horse got infected with B. burgdorferi and when the infection occurred. The test results are fully quantitative and appropriate to follow-up on treatment success or response to vaccination. The advantages of the Lyme Multiplex Assay compared to other Lyme tests are:

The Lyme Multiplex Assay result provides advanced information beyond any of the currently available Lyme disease testing methods. Lyme Multiplex Assay testing allows a better definition of the horses current infection status and assists in determining treatment options and prognosis. The infection status can also be determined most vaccinated horses. Interpretation varies slightly depending on the vaccine used.

How To Prevent Lyme

Although its difficult, the best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid ticks and blood-sucking insects. An environmentally friendly farm with good manure handling can help keep biting insects away. Guinea hens love to eat ticks, and chickens can also do a fair job. If you live in the woods, these birds may be the only way to keep the tick population down.

No Lyme vaccines have been approved for horses and many veterinarians, including myself, see many problems in horses after using the dog vaccine. It does not seem to work, and horses who have been vaccinated often seem to become chronically sick with Lyme, especially if they were infected before receiving the vaccine.

In the end, a healthy immune system is the most important way you can protect your horse from Lyme disease.

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How Common Is Lyme Disease In Horses

Lyme disease in horses is rare. In the US, only about 1% of the horses have been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Although cases have been on the rise in recent years and it is becoming more common for horses to contract Lyme disease, it is still relatively rare and accounts for less than 1% of all equine diseases and conditions.Ticks can be infected with more than one pathogen, and the same tick bite can transmit more than one type of pathogen. In fact, a single tick bite can transmit as many as three different pathogens to a person. Lyme disease is transmitted through a deer tick bite and it’s the most common tick-borne disease.

Most Common Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Horses


Is there Lyme disease in horses? The first horse I was invited to help train and show on was a gorgeous grey thoroughbred was named Teddy. Teddy had tons of potential and was athletic and willing, just a little green around the edges.

Teddy began redeveloping from his lameness during my first year of working with him. Strangely, he sometimes would lag behind me at the end of a 10-foot lead rope when I brought him in from the field.

As a 17-year-old just getting started in the business, I had no idea. These were troubling symptoms of an all too common disease for equines: Lyme Disease.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in horses can often disguise themselves as other common problems. When left untreated, it can have detrimental effects on the long term health of your horse.

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Lyme Disease Treatment In Horses

When left untreated, Lyme Disease can cause havoc on a horses whole body health. However, when caught and treated early enough, its detrimental effects will now be kept at bay. Most veterinarians will prescribe either IV or Oral antibiotics to combat the bacteria transmitted by infected ticks.

  • Testing: If you recognize many of the above symptoms, you should contact your vet. They will likely do a few preliminary screenings to rule out other causes before testing for Lyme. Tests can come back negative within the first few weeks of exposure, and when that happens, it will be mandatory for you to retest your horse or pony, in case any symptoms persist and no other causes can be determined.
  • Common Antibiotics: Oral Doxycycline or ceftiofur, IV Tetracycline
  • Common Pain Relievers: Banamine is a common anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that some vets may prescribe in conjunction with antibiotics. Banamine will not treat the underlying cause of Lyme Disease but will ease some of the discomfort shown by the horse like in muscle soreness or swelling in the joints.

Nutritional Support Of Lyme Disease

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Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is usually treated with tetracycline antibiotics. Clinical signs of Lyme disease can be vague and include lameness in multiple legs, enlarged joints, fever, and behavioral changes. The diagnosis of Lyme disease can be difficult and involves testing for high antibody levels against B. burgdorferi. Nutritional support aims to promote the immune response, reduce inflammation, and offset possible adverse gastrointestinal effects from antibiotics.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been detailed extensively. Boosting immunity is just one advantage of supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids, so this seems a natural choice for an immune-suppressed horse. Another advantage is a reduction in inflammatory responses. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids reduce arthritic pain and can potentially reduce the dose of anti-inflammatories used for joint pain. Select an omega-3 product that has been derived from fish oil, as these contain direct sources of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid , two long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. For maximal palatability, marine-derived products such as fish oil should be deodorized and flavored. Check with the manufacturer to be sure the product has undergone these processes. One such product is EO-3, manufactured by Kentucky Equine Research .

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Antibiotics May Be Needed

Antibiotics can be useful, especially in freshly diagnosed horses. Repeated rounds of antibiotics, or usage for two to three months or more, usually produces resistance but is detrimental. It is better to change to herbs and keep the spirochete guessing. The use of antibiotics suppresses the immune system in the gut, so the rest of the plan needs to support the horses immunity.

How Do Horses Get Lyme Disease


In the Eastern United States, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, are transmitted by the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis .

Ixodes scapularis

Adult black-legged ticks are usually host-seeking from October through April and will feed on most medium to large-sized mammals, including humans, horses, and dogs. Immature ticks are difficult to find in Florida, unlike other parts of the country, and generally feed on lizards, small mammals, and birds. The black-legged tick is most commonly found in wooded areas or along the edges of wooded areas, although they can be brought into other areas while attached to hosts.

Read Also: Signs My Dog Has Lyme Disease

How Can The Lyme Multiplex Assay Be Compared To Other Serological Lyme Assays

Researchers at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University have compared the former ELISA/Western blot procedure and commercial C6- based assays with the Lyme Multiplex Assay12-14. Multiplex Assay OspF and C6 results highly correlate in infected or non-infected dogs12. In horses, comparisons of C6 results and Lyme Multiplex Assay OspF values showed that antibodies to OspF are more robust and the preferred infection markers in horses14. The Equine Lyme Multiplex Assay provides comprehensive information on the horses stage of infection and, in vaccinated horses, on the antibody status induced by vaccination.

Treating Lyme Disease In Horses

Lyme disease is a common disease found in horses, and we covered the details in our recent blog post, Lyme Disease in Horses: Fact vs. Fiction . So, once youve read that, lets say you suspect your horse has Lyme disease, youve reviewed the facts vs. fiction, had your vet out to pull blood and done the testing to determine the status of the infection. Whats next?

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Holistic Treatments For Lyme Disease

How you can supplement your horses conventional Lyme treatment.

Flickr/Five Furlongs Photography/CC

If youve been watching the news this spring, you know that Lymes disease is already a hot topic and its just barely summer! Lyme, along with other tick-borne illnesses, are especially of concern for us equestrians because our equines are at-risk, too.

If your horse is diagnosed with Lyme, , there are a number of holistic treatment options that can work along with antibiotic treatments to keep your horse as comfortable, and as healthy as possible.

The typical Lyme treatment protocol includes heavy doses of antibiotics, said integrative veterinarian and owner of the Harmany Equine Clinic, Dr. Joyce Harman. While antibiotics are effective at targeting the spirochete bacteria that cause Lyme, antibiotics suppress the immune system. The reason is because two-thirds of the immune system lies within the gut wall and antibiotics create inflammation in the gut.

Here are a handful of her favorite immune system-boosting holistic supplements:

Japanese Knotweed:

Its more than just a pesky weed! Japanese knotweed is highly effective in treating Lyme. It enhances and modulates immune function, is active against a number of bacteria, is anti-inflammatory for both bacterial and arthritic inflammations, and protects the body against endotoxin damage.



Vitamin C:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

What Is Lyme Disease In Horses


Thus, familiarizing yourself with the most common of symptoms, is the first step to combating this debilitating disease.

Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that can affect anything from humans to horses.

It is caused by a bacterium that is carried most commonly by deer ticks and transmitted through tick bites. Lyme Disease is most common in the North East, where ticks are increasingly prevalent, especially in the warmer months.

Unlike in humans where Lyme can be detected by a bullseye shaped rash following contact with a tick, Lyme Disease can be much harder to detect in horses and other animals.

Read Also: How To Control Lyme Disease

Natural Treatments For Supporting The Immune System

The microbiome is the DNA of the microbes living in the gut. Probiotics are an absolute necessity and should continue for many months after antibiotic therapy is finished. The purpose of giving probiotics over the long term is to restore the health of the microbiome. Since soilbased microbes make up most of the natural population of the gut, supplements that use soil origin microbes will more effectively colonize the gut.

Vitamin C is well known for its action in the immune system and on collagen .

Noni is an herb that supports the immune system and has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. In fruit leather form, it is relatively inexpensive and concentrated, while the juice can be quite expensive, more dilute, and contains a significant amount of sugar.

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and support the immune system. They can be obtained through feeding whole flaxseed , naturally stabilized ground flax, hemp seeds, or chia seeds . Flax or hemp oils can be used, but they must be refrigerated during warm or hot weather. Three to six ounces twice a day is the usual dose for seeds less volume is needed with the oils. Blue-green algae also contains significant amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Treatment Approach No Quick Fix

There is no magic bullet for treating chronic LD cases. The best approach is a multisystemic one, using a combination of conventional, complementary, and alternative medicine. Successful treatment includes support for the immune system, not just during the immediate treatment period but over the long term. Due to the Lyme spirochetes ability to recur, the immune system must be prepared to respond at a moments notice.

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What Is A Tick

Ticks are hematophagous mites, that is, they feed and live from another animal. They suck blood from vertebrates, mainly terrestrial mammals and birds can measure from 1 mm to 5 mm in length on an empty stomach, and up to 30 mm when they are full of blood. They carry parasites and can transmit diseases to their host caused by these parasites the most well-known of which is Lyme disease.

Keeping Cells Free Of Debris

Lyme Disease in the Equine, Part II

You depend on your immune system to keep the spaces between cells free of debris so that they get good flow. Specialized immune cells, called macrophages, constantly patrol your tissues searching for debris they are the garbage collectors of the immune system. Macrophages engulf debris from dead cells and then break it down with strong acid and potent free radicals.

This process is happening in the body all the timeyou couldnt survive without it. As long as the collection of debris doesnt exceed the capacity of the immune system to clean it up, you never know its happening. Its deemed inflammation only when accumulation of debris from cell turnover is greater than the immune system can process.

Tissues congested with debris stresses cells. When cells suffer, you feel it as symptoms. The type of symptoms depend on the types and location of cells that are suffering. Symptoms associated with inflammation can be transient and localized when cell injury is finite, such as with an acute injury, or chronic and systemic when cell injury is ongoing, such as with chronic Lyme disease or really any chronic illness.

Lets take a look at inflammation in more detail, particularly chronic inflammation as it impacts people with Lyme disease, along with the best ways to quash it.

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Lifestyle Remedies For Tick

If caught early enough, Lyme disease can typically be treated using several lifestyle remedies.

Regular exercise augments the amount of oxygen in the body and blood, which acts to destroy the Lyme bacteria in the blood.

Additionally, probiotics taken daily boosts the number of good bacteria in the gut, supplementing the immune system.

Essential Oils From Garlic And Other Herbs Kill Lyme Disease Bacterium

Oils from garlic and several other common herbs and medicinal plants show strong activity against the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. These oils may be especially useful in alleviating Lyme symptoms that persist despite standard antibiotic treatment, the study also suggests.

The study, published October 16 in the journal Antibiotics, included lab-dish tests of 35 essential oils–oils that are pressed from plants or their fruits and contain the plant’s main fragrance, or “essence.” The Bloomberg School researchers found that 10 of these, including oils from garlic cloves, myrrh trees, thyme leaves, cinnamon bark, allspice berries and cumin seeds, showed strong killing activity against dormant and slow-growing “persister” forms of the Lyme disease bacterium.

“We found that these essential oils were even better at killing the ‘persister’ forms of Lyme bacteria than standard Lyme antibiotics,” says study senior author Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School.

Oils from thyme leaves, cumin seeds and amyris wood also performed well, as did cinnamaldehyde, the fragrant main ingredient of cinnamon bark oil.

“At this stage these essential oils look very promising as candidate treatments for persistent Lyme infection, but ultimately we need properly designed clinical trials,” he says.

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Lyme Disease

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves exposure to 100 percent oxygen at a high pressure. Its often in a room called a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to promote wound healing.

There isnt much research about the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for Lyme disease. But a 2014 case study from Taiwan reports that it treated Lyme disease in a person who hadnt responded to antibiotics. Still, more large-scale studies are needed to understand whether its an effective treatment.

Symptoms Of Tick Bites And Equine Lyme Disease

Brain &  Nerve Support for Horses
  • Lethargy
  • Laminitis
  • Ataxia
  • Neurological symptoms of Lyme disease in horses-Increase sensitivity to stimuli, swollen joints, neck stiffness, head tilt, behavioral changes and depression.

Equine Lyme disease or borreliosis can only be confirmed through a blood test. However, things are not as straightforward as one would expect. The equine Lyme disease test may come positive only after 3 months of the infestation which means that many horses actually test negative for Lyme antibodies in the early stages of the infection. Also, horses that do test positive but are treated with antibiotics continue to show positive in the test-thereby complicating interpretation of the resolution of the disease.

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Lyme Disease Is Spreading Throughout The Country And Natural Treatment And A Healthy Immune System Is The Most Important Way You Can Protect Your Horse

Lyme disease seems to be the disease du jour in many regions, and with good reason. Its spreading throughout the country and can be very difficult to treat. Horses do not always have as much long term trouble as humans and may be more responsive to treatment, especially if the disease is caught early, but many can and do develop chronic problems. Natural treatment is very important to their recovery and maintenance.

The Lowdown On Lyme Disease In Horses

The problems started with stiffness in your horse’s right hock. Now the hock seems better, but he’s off in front. And he’s definitely not his normal, perky selfhe mopes around in his paddock, and he pins his ears and tries to move away when you groom him.

On-again, off-again lameness, low energy levels, a cranky attitudethose signs could point to something as simple as overwork. But Lyme disease could produce all those problems, and it may be a growing problem for horses in parts of the United States. Lyme disease can have long-term complications that include damage to your horse’s joints, skin, nervous system and even vision.

A bacterial disease spread by tick bites, Lyme is a problem for people, dogs and other animals, not just horses. As the ticks that carry this disease slowly expand their range, cases and concern are increasing. Is your horse at risk? If he develops Lyme disease, how will you know, and what should you do? Can you protect him? This article will help you make sense of the threat.

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