SCOTLAND’S animal welfare charity is urging people to make preparations for their animals as another harsh winter looks set to return.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has issued advice to pet owners, farmers and wildlife enthusiasts on how to provide the best care to animals during severe weather conditions.
SSPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “Freezing temperatures and deep snow can be very dangerous for animals, including domestic pets, equines, farm animals and wildlife.
“In particular, we strongly advise owners not to walk their dogs near frozen water.
“Last winter there were several instances where dogs fell through ice, which could have had tragic consequences for the dogs and their owners.
“Many cats tend to spend long periods outside. However, with temperatures so low, owners should ensure their cats can either come inside or at least have access to somewhere warm.
“Animals kept outdoors should have adequate shelter, any extra food and bedding they need and access to unfrozen drinking water.
“At this time of year many owners of pets kept in outdoor hutches such as rabbits also move the hutches somewhere safe inside.
“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 received a high volume of calls relating to animals stranded in deep snow, particularly farm animals and horses.
“We also dealt with a large number of wildlife casualties such as hedgehogs found struggling to survive and orphaned and injured seal pups.
“Anyone who spots a sick, injured or distressed animal can call our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.”