Winter advice on animals

Senior Inspector Stuart Murray with a pony in the wintry conditions.
Senior Inspector Stuart Murray with a pony in the wintry conditions.

The Scottish SPCA is urging owners to keep animals safe this winter.

Scotland’s animal welfare charity has issued advice to pet owners, farmers and wildlife enthusiasts ahead of the arrival of winter weather.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said, “Freezing temperatures and deep snow can be very dangerous for domestic pets, equines, farm animals and wildlife.

“We always urge dog owners to keep their pets on the lead near frozen waterways and people must never go after their dog if it walks out onto the ice.

“Each year we hear of incidents where people have tried to rescue their pet from a frozen river or lake, often with tragic consequences, and we’re keen to make sure both animals and owners stay safe this winter.

“Cat owners should also make adequate provisions for their pets by ensuring they have access to somewhere warm when the temperature drops.

“All animals kept outdoors should have shelter, extra food, plenty of bedding and must have access to unfrozen drinking water.

“In the worst winter weather, owners of rabbits and other pets kept in outdoor hutches should move them inside where possible.

“The level of snowfall and treacherous conditions can make it hard for farmers to monitor their animals but, again, it is vital that they have access to unfrozen drinking water and food.

“It is also kind to feed wild birds at this time of year as their natural food sources will be scarce.”

Anyone who finds an animal in distress over the winter period is being encouraged to contact the Scottish SPCA for help and advice.

Chief Supt Flynn added, “Last year we dealt with a large number of wildlife casualties such as underweight hedgehogs found struggling to survive and orphaned or injured seal pups.

“Anyone who spots a sick, injured or distressed animal should call our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.”

For domestic pets, ensure pet food supplies are sufficient to last periods when it is unsafe to drive or walk outdoors to re-stock. Pets kept in outdoor hutches or kennels should be provided with extra bedding.