Don’t let animals pay the price for outdoor socialising, warn vets - Veterinary Practice
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Don’t let animals pay the price for outdoor socialising, warn vets

Vets are reminding the public to dispose of litter and barbecue waste responsibly to protect pets, farm animals and wildlife

As many people make plans to reunite
with friends and family at outdoor events, vets are reminding the public to
dispose of litter and barbecue waste responsibly to protect pets, farm animals
and wildlife.

The recent relaxing of restrictions on
socialising outdoors is predicted to cause a surge in picnics and barbecues
over the coming weeks. But vets are asking the public to remain mindful of the
dangers litter such as broken glass, barbecue skewers and food packaging can
pose to animals.

Figures from the BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey revealed that in
2018 44 percent of vets treated animals suffering injuries or harm from litter. Vets
are hoping that the public will take steps to dispose of their litter
responsibly after hearing of the terrible impact on animals.

The cases ranged from external injuries,
such as cuts and damaged limbs, to obstruction or internal injury and poisoning
due to the ingestion of litter. They were most commonly seen in pets but there
were also reports of cases in wildlife and farm animals. In a number of cases
the animals died despite receiving veterinary care.

BVA Senior Vice President, Daniella Dos
Santos said:

“We are all looking forward to reuniting
with loved ones in accordance with government guidance over the next month and
for many of us this will mean socialising outside in parks, gardens and other
outdoor spaces. We are hoping that this reminder of the harmful impact litter
can have on animals prompts everyone to ensure they dispose of any waste

“These figures show that even before the
current restrictions many animals were arriving in practices across the country
every week requiring treatment for terrible, and sometimes fatal, injuries and
poisoning caused by discarded rubbish. This isn’t just about obvious hazards
like broken glass; any unsecured rubbish in public spaces, or even outside your
home, can attract animals and lead to injuries.”

Dogs appear most likely to be the
victims of litter with 41 percent of companion animal vets reporting that they have
seen litter-related injuries in dogs. Those vets who had treated animals for
litter-related injuries had seen on average 3.6 cases per vet, of which 2.6
cases are in dogs.

Of those vets who provided examples of
litter injuries, nearly half (47 percent) reported animals that had been harmed by
glass, tin or metal cans. Twenty-three percent reported animals tangled up in
materials such as elastic bands, netting, wire and plastic rings and 18 percent reported injury from fishing hooks or other fishing equipment.

Just over a third (35 percent) reported harm
from ingestion of food waste such as poisoning, gastroenteritis or internal
damage. Potentially dangerous food waste swallowed included rotting food,
bones, fruit stones and corn cobs, while barbeque skewers were also mentioned
as a common hazard. Just under a third of the vets (31 percent) reported examples of
harm from ingestion of non-food waste such as plastic or food packaging causing
internal obstruction or perforation.

Owners who believe that their animal may
have eaten or been injured by litter are advised to seek veterinary treatment
as quickly as possible. Members of the public who find wild animals injured by
litter are advised to look for specialist wildlife centres in their area or to
contact a local vet where none is available.

Veterinary Practice

Improve Veterinary Practice (part of the Improve International Group) is an online knowledge and information hub for veterinary professionals across all specialties. It provides reliable, useful and interesting content, written by expert authors and covering small animal, large animal, exotics, equine and practice management
sectors of the veterinary surgeon and nursing professions.

Improve Veterinary Practice also offers a subscription-based membership, offering CPD courses and much more for the whole veterinary community.

Improve Veterinary Practice exists to inspire and inform your day-to-day work, and enable your ongoing professional development.

More from this author

Have you heard about our
IVP Membership?

A wide range of veterinary CPD and resources by leading veterinary professionals.

Stress-free CPD tracking and certification, you’ll wonder how you coped without it.

Discover more