The Donkey Sanctuary is warning of the dangers of sycamore seeds after dozens of horses have died from a fatal disease which is feared could affect donkeys.
Dozens of horses have died in recent weeks from Atypical Myopathy in Wales and in Northern Ireland and cases have occurred all over the UK.
The disease has always affected horses but less is known how it affects donkeys.
This autumn’s outbreak is particularly severe with warm weather and windy conditions spreading the toxic seeds of the Sycamore tree (Acer pseudoplatanus).
The disease progresses rapidly and is fatal in 70 per cent of cases in horses.
Symptoms in horses include:
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- Muscle spasms
- Inability to stand
The disease may affect donkeys differently so The Donkey Sanctuary is urging owners to be extra vigilant for any changes in their animals’ behaviour and to contact their vet at the first sign of any changes.
Alex Thiemann, The Donkey Sanctuary’s vet, said: “The number of cases of Atypical Myopathy appears to be on the increase and donkeys may exhibit different symptoms from horses so we would advise owners to be extra vigilant and read the factsheet available below.
"Owners should fence off any areas containing sycamore, provide adequate forage and check pasture for seeds twice a day. It is not necessary to remove your donkeys from pasture completely and any dietary changes should be made gradually. Donkeys are of a stoical nature and may not demonstrate the clinical signs of Atypical Myopathy seen in horses. So if you observe any changes in your donkey’s behaviour or are otherwise concerned we suggest contacting your local vet for advice.”