Treating Your Horse for Lyme: 4 Things You Should Know

Doxy and probiotics
The main treatment for Lyme is Doxycycline. Freedom is on an 8 week course. That’s longer than used to be prescribed. To protect his gut bacteria, he also gets a probiotic.

So, it’s official. Freedom has Lyme disease. The second round of blood tests were positive both for the SNAP test and the Cornell Multiplex. He’s symptoms indicated Lyme but it’s always nice to know you are treating something.  As we embark on his treatment, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve learned about treating Lyme.

  1. The treatment protocol is now 6-8 weeks of Doxycycline. Freedom was treated for Lyme once before, back in 2011. At that time the recommendation was 4-6 weeks. And I can remember when the treatment protocol was just 30 days. The good news is that he completely recovered last time.
  2. Positive is positive. The magnitude of the titer does not correlate with how your horse feels. So, even though your horse may have a relatively low titer, he may feel terrible.
  3. Keep your horse moving. My vet told me to keep him active (he is on 24/7 turnout which helps).
  4. Treatment goes beyond antibiotics. Whenever you treat your horse with Doxy, you should supplement with a probiotic because antibiotics kill the beneficial gut bacteria. In addition to that, many vets recommend supportive care that includes:
    1. Omega 3 supplements, which have anti-inflammatory properties and support the immune system (Freedom gets flax seed),
    2. Vitamin E  to protect against muscle damage and the improve immune response. Natural vitamin E is has greater bioavailability, so look for products with d-alpha-tocopherol, not dl-alpha-tocopherol. Freedom tested deficient for Vitamin E awhile back, so he always gets it, but I’ve upped his supplementation while he’s being treated.
    3. Lots of forage to help avoid gastrointestinal problems. I’m a big proponent of lots of hay. I also mix his Doxy into soaked alfalfa cubes and grain to make sure he eats it all.
    4. A joint supplement: Since Lyme often manifests itself as joint soreness, feeding a joint supplement can help. Freedom gets Corta-Flx liquid.

Would love to hear of other treatments that people have used successfully!

One thought on “Treating Your Horse for Lyme: 4 Things You Should Know

  1. My ottb mare was diagnosed with Lyme back in 1995 or 96. My vet didn’t have enough of the recommended drug on hand so she wrote me a prescription and I went to the local Giant Food Pharmacy to pick it up. (She’d written “Horse” Hubbard on script.) Pharmacist was aghast. Asked if my doctor was sure about the dosage….I explained it was written by my vet and was for my horse. Can’t remember what it was, I know it was in pill form and upset her stomach so we switched to injections of Ampicillin. She recovered and never had another episode. In my mare the Lyme’s manifested in her digestive system. She was having “mini” colics and tying up, listless, weight loss. Nothing in her life had changed: Same barn, feed, work…drove my vet and I nuts. By chance I ran into an old friend from another barn at a show. She’d been going thru the same with her horse for 7 years (!) until the vet did a titer because it was the only test they had not done. I called my vet to schedule titer test that day! What a relief, just to get a diagnosis. Back then Lyme was unheard of.

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