The Scottish SPCA is urging people to help animals stay safe this winter.
Scotland’s animal welfare charity has issued advice to pet owners, farmers and wildlife enthusiasts as the temperature falls.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “Freezing weather can be very dangerous for domestic pets, equines, farm animals and wildlife.
“Dog owners should 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 want both animals and their owners stay safe.
“We would always recommend owners wash their dogs’ feet after they have been walking on gritted roads as salt can be an irritant to the paws and can upset the digestive system if ingested.
“Those with cats should make adequate provisions for them by ensuring they have access to somewhere warm when the temperature drops and all pets kept outdoors will need extra food, bedding and access to unfrozen drinking water. In the worst winter weather, owners of rabbits, guinea pigs and other animals kept in outdoor hutches should move them inside where possible.
“Antifreeze is one of the most common causes of cat poisoning, particularly in the winter months, and can result in a horrific death.
We would urge anyone servicing their car to take extra care and ensure any spillages are cleaned up and disposed of properly as it could save an animal’s life.
“Treacherous conditions makes it hard for farmers to monitor their livestock but, again, it is vital they have access to unfrozen drinking water and food.”
Anyone who finds an animal in distress over the winter period is being encouraged to contact the charity 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.
“Wildlife lovers can feed birds to help them through the winter as their natural food sources will be scarce at this time of year.
“Anyone who spots a distressed animal should call our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.”