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June 21, 2011


Lyme disease in horses: Part 1 – Symptoms and Treatment

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

Today is the first day of summer and as the temperatures heat up across the country, so do the chances of being exposed to ticks.  Ticks transmit a host of diseases in the US such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado tick fever, Powassan encephalitis, and Q fever.  The most well known disease nation-wide transmitted by ticks is Lyme disease which is caused by the spirochete B burgdorferi.  The black legged deer tick is the most common host for the disease but other types of ticks have been identified as carriers.  The ticks feed off rodents infected with lyme disease then seek out larger hosts such as deer, humans and horses.  A tick only needs to be attached for 24 hours to transmit this disease. Horses and other animals can contract Lyme disease, exhibiting symptoms similar to those in humans (fever, dizziness, joint pain). Veterinarians can test for Lyme disease with a simple blood test.

Map courtesy of the American Lyme Disease Foundation


Lyme disease symptoms progress in three stages:

1)  In most cases a bull’s eye rash develops around the bite site within 3 to 30 days after the tick is removed.  This can be virtually impossible to see under a horse’s coat and sometimes this rash doesn’t even show up on humans or animals.

2)  Lameness, poor performance, mood changes then develop and are exhibited in the days and weeks after the infection.

3)  In the following weeks and months the symptoms intensify with pains severely affecting joints, thyroid, the adrenal system and the heart.

The symptoms can come and go making it hard to diagnose without a proper blood test.  To make matters worse, the symptoms can also show up before the antibodies have developed thus causing a false negative when tested.  It is important that if you get your horse tested and it comes back negative for Lyme Disease, to monitor the symptoms and ask your vet to re-test the horse in the coming weeks or months.


Once diagnosed, a veterinarian will administer oral or intravenous antibiotics in the short term.  Intravenous tetracycline has been said to be the most effective nutraceutical treatment of the disease.  Tetracycline can be severely damaging to the surrounding tissue so it is important to have a qualified veterinarian administer the IV injection.

For nutritional support, ABC’s Lyme Disease Supplement is a good choice.  It contains a selected amino acid profile, herbs, and other nutrients to assist the functions of both the thyroid and adrenal glands.

Lyme Disease Supplement may also be beneficial for supporting optimum health during all types of Endocrine Disorders such as: Cushings, Hypothyroidism, Insulin Resistance, Endocrine Syndrome, Syndrome X, Metabolic Syndrome, etc.* It is safe to use with any drug and nutraceutical protocols that you may already be using.*

A healthy endocrine system is discussed in the Health Library under the Endocrine categories.  Next week we will discuss Lyme Disease prevention and how to properly remove a tick from the body.

* These statements have not been evalutated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kyra
    May 14 2012

    The map is seriously lacking – the vet office I work in sees positive heartworm tests that come up positive for lyme disease on a daily basis year round. We have even begun using Cornell’s new test and see positive result through their new test. How is that possible if it’s rare? We are in Virginia.

    • The map was provided to us by the American Lyme Disease Foundation. If there is a gap in reporting the cases to the state it could reflect on the map. We will look into this and try to find an updated map. Thank you for calling this to our attention.

  2. Sep 7 2013

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  3. Sep 16 2014

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