WITH the bank holiday weekend inspiring outdoor get-togethers, vets are reminding the public to dispose of litter and barbecue waste responsibly to protect pets, farm animals and wildlife.

Litter such as broken glass, barbecue skewers and food packaging can pose all kinds of danger to animals.

Figures from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey revealed that in 2018, 44 per cent of vets treated animals suffering injuries or harm from litter.

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:

“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 per cent of companion animal vets reporting that they have seen litter-related injuries in dogs.

Nearly half (47 per cent) reported animals that had been harmed by glass, tin or metal cans. Twenty-three per cent reported animals tangled up in materials such as elastic bands, netting, wire and plastic rings and 18 per cent reported injury from fishing hooks or other fishing equipment.

Just over a third (35 per cent) 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 per cent) 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.