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  • Q:

    My 14-year-old gelding was diagnosed with equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) and Lyme disease about five years ago. Treatment for EPM was effective except from some continued stumbling down hills. He has since tested positive for Lyme disease again, characterized by poor condition, subtle depression, and frequent gas colic. He’s fed 2 lb (0.9 kg) high-quality feed, a vitamin/mineral supplement, and one or two flakes of alfalfa hay each day, in addition to pasture 24/7. He’s being treated with doxycycline for the Lyme disease, aloe vera for gastric ulcers, and probiotics for gut health. I am working with my barn manager to revise his diet to supply more calories for weight gain. Can anything be done about the Lyme damage?

  • A:

    Nutritional support for Lyme disease is based primarily on providing immune-building nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Boosting immunity is just one advantage of supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA and EPA, so this seems a natural choice for an immune-suppressed horse. Another advantage is a body-wide reduction in inflammatory responses. The preferred source of omega-3 fatty acids is EO•3, a high-quality source of EPA and DHA. During your gelding’s treatment and recovery, I recommend supplementing with 2-4 oz of EO•3 for optimal health benefits.

    Vitamin E is an important antioxidant well known for its immune-strengthening capabilities. Highly recommended for horses with neurological compromise, including EPM, vitamin E helps reduce inflammation and bolster muscle and nerve health. Natural-source vitamin E has been shown to have the greatest bioavailability in the horse. When selecting a product, choose a water-soluble, natural-source vitamin E, like Nano•E. Daily supplementation of Nano-E is recommended at 1,000-3,000 IUs per day.

    Unfortunately, a secondary component of Lyme disease can be joint and nerve damage. Your gelding’s weakness and stumbling, if a recent development, may be a residual effect of both Lyme disease and EPM. Offering a broad-spectrum joint support program is beneficial for these horses. Key ingredients include chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, sodium hyaluronate, and omega-3 fatty acids.

    Providing a daily digestive buffer can help combat gastrointestinal upset by neutralizing excess acid. Two research-proven products that support digestive health are RiteTrac and EquiShure. RiteTrac provides total digestive tract protections as it contains antacids and coating agents for the stomach, as well as EquiShure for hindgut health. Australian horse owners should look for these research-proven digestive products.

    Finally, I believe changes can be made to your gelding’s diet to help him gain weight, even in the face of Lyme, as you alluded to in your query. Should you have any questions about a weight-gain diet, please contact us again.

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