Preventions for Lyme Disease in the Equine

By Dr Joyce Harman DVM, MRCVS


Prevention is difficult if you live in a LD endemic area. Topical antiparasitics are toxic to the animals and the environment (if they are washed off in the rain and get into the waterways). In some cases, it is easier to support the horse’s system to deal with the drugs than to treat chronic LD. In other cases, it is beneficial to use a more natural approach. For example, Guinea hens are effective at removing ticks from the environment, though they are noisy and may not fit with the farm environment. Keeping the grass mowed in the pasture is also helpful.

Topical essential oils and various insect repellant sprays can be helpful but need to be applied frequently. Japanese knotweed root (Fallopia japonica or Polygonum cuspidatum) appears to be helpful in endemic areas, but cannot be said to guarantee protection.

A new topical spray is available that prevents the ticks from adhering to the hair. This is an exciting addition to the prevention protocols. It is non-toxic and therefore safe to add to a prevention program (Ticks-Off ®).

Ticks-Off Spray


Feeding garlic or apple cider vinegar can be helpful.


The treatment of LD is complex and requires the willingness to keep reevaluating the progress and make changes based on the presenting signs. To prevent relapses and maintain optimal health, attention needs to be directed at managing stress, supporting the immune system, and becoming aware of minor changes in behavior that indicate a horse is not feeling perfect. Tick and insect control is always a challenge, but needs to be an important part of managing the disease.

Source: Joyce Harman DVM, MRCVS