News catgories

Categories

Foraging – Things to be mindful of

Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2019 by Sasha Melia

Throughout the year there are various foods that horses can forage and whilst there are a few that are safe favourites, such as blackberries and cow parsley, sometimes it can be hard to know what is safe for them to eat and what isn’t. Some plants lurking in our fields and hedgerows can be toxic and horses are not always discerning when it comes to their choices. It’s always best to be prepared, especially during autumn and winter, when horses may be foraging more. In Autumn as the leaves begin to fall, one particular risk is Sycamore Poisoning, a potentially fatal illness caused by horses ingesting Sycamore seeds.

Sycamore poisoning

Sycamore, or ‘helicopter’ seeds as they are sometimes known, fall mainly in the Autumn and Whilst it is a clear sign that the weather is changing and the colder nights are approaching, Sycamore seeds can be very dangerous for horses and potentially fatal.

Atypical Myopathy is an illness caused by horses ingesting Sycamore seeds. It can affect horses of all ages and it is particularly common during autumn. Research in the USA has revealed the cause to be a toxin called Hypoglycin-A.

The most common misdiagnosis in cases of Atypical Myopathy is colic, as the first symptoms can appear very similar.

The disease is characterised by acute damage to the horse’s respiratory, cardiac and skeletal (or postural) muscles and symptoms include:

  • Muscle weakness

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Heart problems

  • Considerable pain that can result in the horse lying flat out

Petplan Equine Ambassador and Veterinary Surgeon Juliette Edmonds comments, “cases of Atypical Myopathy are thankfully rare, but we do see a rise in those affected during autumn. This is associated with the change in weather conditions. The illness is often fatal, supportive treatment can be given, but there is unfortunately no cure.  Symptoms range from obvious lethargy and weakness to sweating and signs similar to Colic. Horses affected by the illness may become so weak that they are unable to stand and their urine will appear red/brown as the muscle breakdown products are excreted”.

As always, prevention is better than cure,” adds Petplan Equine Ambassador and Veterinary Surgeon Katie Preston. “The best way to reduce the risk of horses ingesting sycamore seeds is to not allow turn out if the pasture is encompassed by a Sycamore tree and remove the tree if you can. Although some seeds carry the toxin and others don’t and some horses can tolerate it to a certain extent while others can’t, I would advise not even risking it.”

For more information on Sycamore poisoning, head to the Petplan Equine website

If you are concerned about your horse or feel they are showing any symptoms of Atypical Myopathy call your vet immediately.

07.04.2018. , Cranbrook, Kent, England. Petplan Photoshoot. Stephen Bartholomew/Stephen Bartholomew Photography

07.04.2018. , Cranbrook, Kent, England. Petplan Photoshoot. Stephen Bartholomew/Stephen Bartholomew Photography

18 August 2015, Petplan Photoshoot Stephen Bartholomew/Stephen Bartholomew Photography.

18 August 2015, Petplan Photoshoot Stephen Bartholomew/Stephen Bartholomew Photography.

sycamore-seeds

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Central Horse News, Unit 8, Glebe Business Park, Horley, Oxfordshire. OX15 6BN
Web design Dorset Weymouth and Portlandweb design pooleweb design witneyWeb design Weymouth and Portlandweb design oxfordshire