Lyme disease in dogs is the leading tick-borne disease in the United States.
And while Lyme disease may not be common and many dogs never develop any symptoms, it is something that you need to treat if your dog starts showing signs …
… But if your dog does get this infection, don’t run to the vet for drugs without trying these natural alternatives first.
Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease in dogs is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This is a spirochete, a spiral shaped bacterium. A dog can get Lyme disease when a small deer tick or wood tick carrying the bacteria bites him.
Lyme disease can appear as:
- Heart disease
- Severe neurological problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Partial facial paralysis
- Limb atrophy
Because the disease itself often seems unintelligible, this has made diagnosis extremely difficult for both vets and physicians.
As a result, in dogs Lyme can easily be misdiagnosed. But it turns out that the Lyme bacteria are pretty easy to understand once you really spend some time with them and begin to understand what they do in the body – and why.
How Lyme Disease Spreads
Lyme bacteria are parasitic organisms, as many bacteria are. They need a host to live in. And because they can’t make all the nutrients they need themselves, they scavenge them from their hosts. Most of what they need can be found in collagen tissues. So, once they enter the animal host, they begin breaking down collagen tissues into a kind of soup in order to feed. It’s where they break down those tissues that’ important.
- Joints = Lyme arthritis
- Heart = Lyme carditis
- Central nervous system = neurological Lyme with associated brain fog, difficulty thinking and remembering, tremors, facial paralysis, loss of limb function and so on.
This is the secret to understanding the disease and how to treat it.[Related: Prevention is the best medicine. Find a ton of natural ways to keep ticks off your dog here]
Collagen And Inflammation
Once Lyme bacteria move to a site rich in collagen, they initiate inflammatory processes that begin to break down the collagen at that site. This decreases certain aspects of the immune response, essentially those parts of the immune system that can affect defend against the bacteria.
So, in order to successfully treat the disease, three things need to occur:
- Reduce the inflammation the spirochetal bacteria cause
- Support the collagen in the body
- Increase immune function
One more important thing you need to do is to treat any specific symptoms that might arise. For example, neurological Lyme can often cause extreme anxiety, so treating that specific symptom is highly important.
Additionally, there may be extreme fatigue which is also crucial to address for healing to occur.
Very much the last thing to do, in my experience, is to use antibacterials to try and kill the spirochetes. After nearly ten years of focus on Lyme, often with people who have, without success, gone through multiple rounds of antibiotics, I found that if the inflammation is stopped, the collagen protected and the immune health raised, then the disease goes into a kind of remission where a balance is established with the bacteria and their host. In such instances, all or nearly all symptoms disappear. Sometimes, the bacteria disappear completely because their source of nutrients is cut off.
6 Natural Treatments For Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme, and many of its co-infections, are common in companion animals, although Lyme can infect nearly all animals on the planet. A number of people, concerned about their pets, and exasperated at the lack of progress by their vets, reported good success once they began using the protocol I developed for people on their dogs (and horses, although I never have heard of it being used with cats who are a lot more sensitive to herbal medicines in general).
So, I want to share it with you too.
Here are 6 natural treatment options for Lyme disease in dogs.
Generally, improvements begin to occur within two to four weeks.
Please note that all of the herbs can be given simultaneously and all the herbs may be used along with antibiotics. Also, if your dog is very small, use smaller doses, if larger use more. The doses I am giving here are for a medium sized dog. And yes, you can use liquid formulations as well. I just prefer to use the herbs themselves.
1. Japanese Knotweed Root
The most important herb to use is Japanese knotweed root (Polygonum cuspidatum). Inflammation can occur through a number of different pathways in the body but the root of this plant is specific for the exact pathways that the Lyme bacteria initiate. It will reduce the inflammation which will then reduce many of the symptoms that occur. Additionally, the herb is a fairly good synergist which means it tends to increase the actions of both herbs and pharmaceuticals when used along with them.
Japanese knotweed is a food grade herb which means it can normally be taken in rather large doses. For pets, I would recommend you get the bulk root, powder it (in a Vitamix or blender), and add it to their food. I think it is best given at least twice a day, morning and evening.
I would look at an initial dosage of three tablespoons, twice a day. Another benefit of this plant? It is invasive in nearly all Lyme endemic areas so if you are on the east coast you can often harvest the root yourself.
2. Cat’s Claw
The second crucial herb is cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa). This herb will raise the particular parts of the immune system specific to the disease. Again, I would use the bulk herb as a powder and the same dosage as the knotweed. Cat’s claw is also a very safe herb; I know of no side effects from use, even in largish doses.
3. Glucosamine Sulfate
The third important substance is glucosamine sulfate. This is a natural supplement that is often included in doggy snacks to help joint problems. It does help with pain and inflammation but I like it for its ability to help restore and protect cartilage. You can get this in powdered form which I think, again, would be the best form for dogs. (If you buy it for animals rather than humans you can get larger quantities at a greatly reduced cost). Some of the powdered forms also include chondroitin, MSM, and collagen. All these are helpful. I would use, to begin with, two tablespoons, twice daily. These three things will, for most dogs, take care of the majority of the problems Lyme causes. In addition, here are a couple of other things that can really help.
Veterinarian Steven Tobin has reported that he has used Ledum (1M potency, three times daily for three days – yes, that is all, just three days) in treating hundreds of dogs for Lyme with very good success. Homeopathic remedies are very safe and generally inexpensive, so it does make sense to have some on hand and to use them for your pet. Some people have indeed reported that it worked well for them.[Related: There are several other homeopathic remedies to use to deal with Lyme disease. Find them here]
Research into the onset of Lyme infection found that the more depressed the immune system, the worse the infection and the worse the outcome. As well, the better the immune health, the better the outcome and the milder the infection. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a very good immune herb that has been used in China for millennia. It raises exactly the immune markers needed to keep infection low or nonexistent. I generally recommend that people who live in Lyme endemic areas take it year-round. It is also a food grade herb and can be taken in large doses. I would recommend three tablespoons, twice daily in food. In some cases of long standing Lyme, due to certain complexities of the infection, the herb can exacerbate the symptoms. It’s best used as a preventative and if the Lyme infection is less than two years old.
Teasel (Dipsacus spp) is very good for joint inflammation. If your dog is suffering badly from Lyme arthritis, use this. It is a very safe herb as well. I would recommend the powder in food, one tablespoon twice daily.
Lyme Is Curable
There’s no reason for your dog to suffer years of illness from Lyme infection. Most of us have been raised to believe that “modern” medicine has all the answers, so it may seem odd to hear that plants can often heal more effectively than pharmaceuticals. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that our species has only been around a hundred thousand years or so. Plants have been around between 170 and 700 million years. They get infections just as we do, but they have learned a thing or two during those millions of years about creating chemical compounds to combat infections (which is, I suppose, why pharmaceutical companies model so many of their drugs after them).
Plants are, in fact, the best chemists on earth.