Sycamore poisoning in horses – Atypical myopathy

Horse owners: warning over sycamore poisoning

Vets and Horse charity’s are urging horse owners to stay vigilant and keep their pets away from sycamore following a recent rise in cases of sycamore poisoning, known as atypical myopathy.

What is atypical myopathy?

Atypical myopathy is a highly fatal muscle disease, thought to be caused by the ingestion of hypoglycin A, a toxin contained in seeds from the sycamore tree (Acer pseudoplatanus).

British vets have seen an alarming rise in new cases of atypical myopathy this year.

Young horses appear to be more susceptible, as are those being grazed on parched land.

Warning to stay alert

Horse owners need to be alert at all times but especially during the spring and autumn months.

If you are worried that your horse may be showing any symptom, call the vet immediately.

“The signs range from depression, muscle weakness, recumbency, choke or colic-like symptoms to dark red urine.

“The sooner atypical myopathy is diagnosed the better the likely outcome.”

Top tips from the Blue Cross to prevent atypical myopathy in horses

The Blue Cross Education Team has worked with veterinary experts at Bourton Vale Equine Clinic to put together the following advice to help horse owners prevent atypical myopathy:

  • Feed forage, such as hay in parched fields, off of floor in haynets or feed racks
  • Do not over stock
  • Limit turnout. Ideally stable horses over night
  • Section off areas around poisonous trees and collect and dispose of leaves safely away from horses
  • Remove young sapling plants
  • Be careful of streams running through paddocks as this is thought to be more prevalent in moist places
  • Be vigilant of the potential signs of this disease and act quickly if your horse becomes poorly.
  • Ensure you check your horse regularly at least twice daily
  • Check your pet insurance is up to date