Living in New England and being responsible for the care of many rescued dogs, I have been treating lyme disease for the past decade. I’ve compiled this Frequently Asked Questions sheet with my findings. My only goal is to help dogs live a long and healthy life and to prolong the joy that they offer their human guardians.
What is Lyme Disease? Lyme disease is caused by infection with a bacterium called a spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi) and is transmitted to humans by infected ticks (Ixodes scapularis and I. Pacificus).
How Do I Have My Dog Tested for Lyme? You need to have your dog tested by your veterinarian. Some vets don’t test for lyme if a dog is on year-round heartworm preventive, so you may need to request this test. The test is called 4DX, and tests for the following diseases: heartworm, lyme, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichia. In New England we traditionally stop the heartworm preventive during the winter months when there’s an absence of mosquitoes and then we have our dogs tested using the 4DX test in the spring for heartworm and tick diseases. Note: if your dog is a new rescue from the south or other warm climates you should keep your dog on the heartworm preventive through the first winter. In my experience Interceptor Plus is more effective and has a further reach-back effect than Heartgard.
Will Frontline, Advantage, and other spot-on drops prevent Lyme? No. These spot-on products will not prevent Lyme. They don’t repel ticks and the tick still delivers the spirochete before it dies, hence the lyme pathology is already started by the time the tick dies. Advantix is reputed to repel ticks, but the chemicals in Advantix are indicated to bee colony to collapse. Imagine what this can do your precious dog!
But why does my vet tell me that Frontline prevents Lyme? In laboratory tests the tick took 48 hours to infect the dog. The premise is that the tick will die before it has a chance to pass the spirochete to the dog. More proof is coming out that the ticks deliver the spirochete faster, hence “Frontlined” dogs are contracting Lyme disease. It makes perfect sense that wild life is more robust in its natural environment than in a laboratory. Historically, we’ve seen many dogs who have been dosed with the spot-on products contract lyme, both with the Save A Dog volunteer’s dogs as well as our adopter’s dogs. It’s confusing when veterinarians are still promoting these products that have proven to be ineffective and dangerous.
Are Spot-on products harmful to my dog? The conventional over-the-counter drops or sprays available contain pesticides. It is a known fact that pesticides cause cancer. Therefore, in my opinion, using spot-on products is like burning your house down to get rid of ants. When you squeeze a tube of flea and tick preventive between your dog’s shoulder blades, you are unwittingly depositing pesticides in your dog’s blood stream. As far back as 1989, a study by the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine Department of Pathobiology, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, found that dogs who received one to two topical pesticide applications per year experienced a 60% increased risk of bladder cancer. Dogs that were given more than two applications per year were 3.5 times more likely to develop bladder cancer. The risk was increased even more in overweight or obese dogs (Glickman et al., 1989; Glickman et al., 2004; Raghaven et al., 2004). For testimonials from people whose pets were killed by these products, see http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/pestcontrol.htm#testimonials. It’s better to use a safe product such Dr. Ben’s Paws and Claws cedar oil spray to keep the bugs off. We sell it at our Save A Dog shop at our shelter for $10 or you can buy it at http://www.drbenscedaroil.com. We also recommend the Raw Baltic Amber collars, which repel all bugs. You can also purchase the collars on Amazon.
Is there something I can put in my dog’s food to keep the ticks off? Yes. Garlic and brewer’s yeast is well known as a deterrent to keep the bugs off of dogs. It’s safe and it’s been used for years. You can buy it in a tablet or get it in a powder from most health food stores. http://www.holisticpetinfo.com/conditions/immune_support.htm is a helpful Web site. They also sell Moducare, which is touted by holistic vets as building the immune system against Lyme and other diseases. Astragalus is also well known as a good defense against Lyme disease as it builds up the dog’s defense system. If a dog is positive for Lyme disease then astragalus is not recommended.
Isn’t garlic toxic to dogs? Raw garlic is toxic, but the garlic that is prepared for dogs is actually safe. Combined with brewer’s yeast, it is a good repellant for bugs. I like the Bug Off Garlic sold by Springtime Inc.
What can I put on my lawn that’s safe for dogs? There are many non-toxic sprays that are available now. I like the cedar oil spray the best. For info see http://www.drbenscedaroil.com.
What can I give my dog after he’s been bitten by a tick? A really good defense against Lyme disease is homeopathic Ledum. Homeopathy strengthens the vital force and is very successful at curing diseases of the blood as well as chronic diseases. For a human, take one homeopathic pellet of Ledum 30c twice a day for 2 days following the tick bite. For dogs, give the same dose of Ledum 200c. Since dogs aren’t as able to dissolve a pellet on their tongue, you can dilute it in 4 oz of distilled water, once the pellet dissolves, stir briskly, and give ½ tsp or several drops on the dog’s tongue. Discard the water after the second day. If you live in a tick infested area, you can give the ledum once a week. See my article http://animalwellnessguide.com/give-homeopathic-remedies-pet/ for information on the most effective way to give a remedy to your pet.
What about the homeopathic nosode? The homeopathic nosode made from the Borrelia Burgdorferi spirochete has been used successfully to prevent as well as treat lyme disease. It’s wise to use the nosode to prepare yourself or your dog when the ticks are not biting. It is especially helpful to start dogs on this who have not been exposed to the ticks yet, for example, a young puppy or a dog who just moved here from a state where lyme disease is not prevalent. Separate instructions for its use are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The same nosode can be used in a 200c potency to treat Lyme, but you should work with Shirley or another homeopath as the dosage needs to be monitored and the advancement of the disease needs to be assessed. If the disease is advanced, there are other remedies that may be more effective, such as aurum arsenicum. I’m finding that as more tick diseases are emerging, the ledum is a better choice as it treats all tick-borne diseases whereas the borrelia burdorferi only covers lyme.
What about the lyme vaccine? I do not consider the lyme vaccine as safe as the side effects can cause the same arthritic symptoms. Also, it is linked to heart disease including heart attacks, which are on the increase amongst dogs. While many vets feel that it is safe, you need to do your own research. I believe that your dog will have better protection with a strong immune system. If your dog has already been vaccinated with the lyme vaccine, you can strengthen his heart by giving him a combination of hawthorn and dandelion. A good product is available at http://www.heartwormfree.com/hawthorn_dandelion.htm . We carry a similar product made by Amber Technology. It is also a good idea to give supplements that will boost your dog’s immune system.
What if my dog has Lyme disease? If your dog has Lyme disease, you should work with a homeopath or a homeopathic vet who is trained in homeopathy from an accredited school or via Dr. Pitcairn’s course. The treatment is individualized depending on a number of things, including the etiology of the dog. This will determine the course of action. At the very least, ask for a C6 test so that you can get a baseline of the number of antibodies in the dog’s blood. This will be your yard stick for measuring if the disease is progressing or is on its way out of the body. Dr. Stephen Tobin of Meriden, CT, has successfully treated thousands of lyme-infected dogs and horses. He advises giving the lyme positive dog Ledum 1M three times a day for three days in a row. Dr. Tobin’s methods are well documented in the Whole Dog Journal http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/4_7/features/5371-1.html. We use a two-step approach, first giving the Ledum 1M for 3 days, followed by a regimen using the homeopathic lyme nosode. We sell the kits at our shelter. More information on treating Lyme Disease with homeopathy, read The Homeopathic Treatment of Lyme Disease by Peter Alex.
What about giving Doxycycline? More information is available now that doxycycline does not stop the disease from progressing. It seems to lower the numbers of antibodies for awhile, but Lyme disease progresses nevertheless. Many homeopaths agree that doxycycline and other antibiotics can hinder the body’s defense mechanism from fighting the disease, so it’s a double-edged sword. The numbers may look good for a while, but the disease comes back with a vengeance. I’ve personally seen this over and over with adopted dogs and with volunteer’s dogs. Also, since the lyme spirochete confers no immunity, once a dog has lyme, s/he can be reinfected every time exposed. Once you treat for lyme, you have to wait six months before having another C6 blood test done. By this time, your dog can be reinfected.
What about Astragalus? Astragalus acts to enhance the immune function during early-stage Lyme disease. It works by enhancing the Th1 immune response, producing higher levels of Th1 which lessens the chance that an infections will occur, or results in more mild symptoms as a result of that infection. However, late-stage Lyme disease is Th1 dominant, so the use of astragalus in the later stages of this disease has the potential to exacerbate this Th1 response and worsen the symptoms of the disease.
Other Methods for Treating Lyme. When the diagnosis is missed, the case turns chronic. Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Roger DeHaan, says that if your dog has chronic Lyme, you need to think outside of the box. He recommends large doses of buffered vitamin C. Vitamin C is a key in connective tissue integrity – the tissue most often attacked by the Lyme organism. You can also add colloidal silver, joint support formulas, immune support and, of course, a superior diet. Ozone therapy provided by MASH Vet in Hopkinton, has been successful for treating Lyme as well. We carry the Bio C as well. Save A Dog is located at 604 Boston Post Road in Sudbury, MA. Phone # 978-443-7282. Homeopathic Aurum Arsenicum has been successful in treating advanced lyme disease. It’s best to work under the guidance of an experienced Homeopath as you will need to assess the totality of the symptoms along with the progression of the disease. Please send your comments and questions to email@example.com.
Excerpt from Whole Dog Journal July 2001 issue:
Treating Lyme with] Homeopathy
Although classical homeopathy does not consider Lyme disease a true illness – like syphilis it is considered a “chronic miasm” caused by an immaterial substance that produces disease by disrupting the vital force – one veterinary homeopath in Connecticut takes a different view. After testing different remedies with limited success, Stephen Tobin, DVM, discovered that Ledum palustre in a 1M potency given three times daily for three days is “about as close as you can get to a specific cure.” According to Dr. Tobin, this method has cured cats, dogs, and horses with recent and established infections, some of which were first treated with antibiotics. In addition, he uses the Lyme disease nosode, a homeopathic preparation of Borrelia burgdorferi 60x as a preventive, giving one dose (one dropperful) daily for one week, then one dose weekly for one month, and one dose every six months indefinitely.
Dr. Tobin says that since he began treating dogs for Lyme disease with homeopathy 10 years ago, he has worked with an estimated 1,000 patients, nearly all with complete success. “There are other homeopathic remedies that treat the symptoms of Lyme disease,” he says, “but I consider Ledum the genus epidemicus for this illness. The 1M strength is not widely sold, but lower strengths are. If your dog develops symptoms, you could try Ledum 30C, and if the symptoms come back, you could order the higher potency. If you spend a lot of time in the woods or have large fields behind your house, Ledum 1M is worth keeping on hand,” he says.
“The nosode is a good investment for dog owners here in the Northeast,” he continues, “for it provides better protection than is generally seen with the vaccine. I don’t claim that the nosode offers 100 percent protection, but it does seem to work in most cases.”
While Dr. Tobin finds that Ledum by itself clears most canine Lyme disease, Dr. Cappel uses the nosode for both prevention and treatment. “I’m convinced that the homeopathics are effective,” she says, “but they take longer to work, and I don’t like to see animals suffer. I give the Lyme disease nosode at the same time as antibiotics, but I continue the nosode for several months. When I had Lyme disease, I used only the nosode for myself because it was my decision, but when my dog had Lyme, I put her on doxycycline and then the nosode.”
As part of her herbal therapy for Lyme disease, Vermont-based master herbalist Hart Brent recommends giving one dose of Ledum 1M as soon as possible after a tick bite, followed by giving 10 drops of the Lyme disease nosode once per day.
This is my recommendation based on dogs that I’ve treated for lyme disease.
If your dog tests positive for lyme, get the C6 blood test so that you have a baseline to which you can compare future test results. Because ledum is so effective at dealing with the disease, I recommend giving the ledum 1M 3 times a day for 3 days in a row as recommended by Dr. Tobin. I find it more effective to “plus” it in water. See http://animalwellnessguide.com/give-homeopathic-remedies-pet/ for easy instructions on how to give a homeopathic remedy to a pet. Wait a week or two and then give the dog a dose of the 200c ledum once a week for a month, or during the entire tick season. If you have an older dog who is in a weakened state, then you should work with a trained Homeopath who can recommend the correct potency for your dog as well as consider a remedy that better matches your dog’s constitution.
If you’re going to give antibiotics, then use the Borrelia Burgdorferi 60x tincture as recommended by Dr. Cappel. If you can’t find the 60x, you can use the 30c potency. You can buy the nosode from elixirs.com. They have an on site homeopath who can guide you in the use of the nosode. Please note that the Borrelia B. only addresses lyme disease, not the other tick diseases.
If you want to opt out of antibiotics as a means to avoid the collateral damage that happens to the dog’s bowel flora, then I recommend the second treatment using borrelia burdorferi in a 200c potency. The reason for the second treatment is that it is more effective at preventing a reoccurrence of lyme disease. Neither the antibiotic treatment nor the ledum treatment will confer immunity. Your dog can be reinfected with every subsequent tick bite following any treatment. That said I’ve found the borrelia burgdorferi nosode to be very effective at keeping the dog from being reinfected. I recommend giving this nosode during the winter months when you’re less apt to be using the ledum as homeopathics are best given separately.
Have the dog retested (C6) in a few months. Many vets recommend six months. For the best success work with a homeopathic consultant or homeopathic vet who prescribes this method.
I hope this article is helpful to you. Please send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Shirley: In 1999 I co-founded Save A Dog, along with my husband David Bernier, and we ran the dog rescue operation out of our home for the first 9 years. I’ve been immersed in the care of thousands of dogs for nearly two decades. After witnessing a few homeopathic miracles I embarked on my professional study of homeopathy at Teleosis and the British Institute of Homeopathy. I’ve never been disappointed by this gentle yet powerful system of medicine and I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life and a gift which I delight in passing onto my dog friends.
 My experience with ledum is that it works very fast , providing relief within a few hours. Shirley