THE SCOTTISH SPCA is urging owners to make sure they keep their animals safe this winter.
The animal welfare charity has issued advice to pet owners, farmers and wildlife enthusiasts ahead of the arrival of winter weather.
Mike Flynn, Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent, warned that freezing temperatures and deep snow can be dangerous for domestic pets, equines, farm animals and wildlife but there are steps owners can take to ensure their animals stay as safe and comfortable as possible.
He said: “We strongly advise owners to keep their dogs on leads at all times when walking near frozen water. People should never go after a dog if it runs on to ice as, although it may be able to hold the weight of a dog, it is unlikely to hold the weight of a human. Each winter there are cases where dogs fall through ice, which can have tragic consequences for the dogs and their owners.
“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 also being encouraged to contact the Scottish SPCA for help and advice.
Mr 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 should call our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.”