Help for a Horse with Lyme Disease

My 21-year-old Thoroughbred suffers from chronic lameness and was recently diagnosed with Lyme’s disease.  He completed his month long treatment of doxycycline and appears to be slightly improved.  He gets Phenylbutazone daily as well as SmartPak Senior. Is there anything else we can supplement to make him more comfortable? TAP, New Jersey

Dear TAP,

I’m guessing when you say your horse gets “SmartPak Senior” that you actually mean our SmartFlex Senior?  That’s our joint supplement for older horses that is chock full of all the important joint ingredients (glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, MSM), plus herbs with activity against pain and inflammation, antioxidants to fight stress, and digestive support via probiotics, prebiotics and enzymes.  Whew.  Your horse is already getting a lot just in this one supplement to make him feel better and to help his body heal!

I have a couple more ideas for you though.  One is adding Omega 3 Fatty Acids.  I can’t think of any situations where adding this family of fatty acids–with their proven anti-inflammatory effects—isn’t beneficial.  The same thing applies to APF, a one-of-a-kind supplement containing adaptogens, herbs that dial the body’s various systems (immune, metabolism, neuromuscular) back to normal, whether the system was “out of whack” too high or too low.  APF protects against the negative effects of stress on the cells and tissues of the body and I would say your horse has been through a lot of stress lately!  Vitamin E is also a very safe choice and an antioxidant I recommend to anyone whose horse suffers from muscular or neurological problems.  It seems to target (and repair) these tissues especially.

Finally, you’re already restoring microorganisms to the GI tract that were probably killed off during the doxycycline (antibiotic) treatment and that’s great.  However, in addition to replacing the normal flora and fauna of the stomach and intestines, you may want to think about specific protection against gastric and colonic ulcers, since your horse is still on “bute,” a potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that has specifically been shown to cause ulcers.  Look for stomach supplements that contain antacids or soothing herbs, and look for hindgut supplements that contain polar lipids, oat beta glucan, and amino acids or specific buffers against acid formation.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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