Pets are bearing the brunt of soaring energy bills, according to “heartbreaking” new research.

An estimated 220,000 adults in Scotland are cutting back on care for their cats and dogs because of the added cost of heating their homes, new analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has found. 

Analysis by the charity estimates that, of the 48% of adults in Scotland who have had to cut household spending, 10% are cutting back on things like dog grooming and vet visits because of rising bills. This is the equivalent of 220,949 people.

More than 1000 adults were surveyed by YouGov, with almost half (484) reporting that they had cut back on household spending due to energy costs,. Of those, 10% said they had reduced spend on pet care, the equivalent of 220,949 adults in Scotland.

READ MORE: Energy debts hit 10-year high as industry warns things will get worse 

Domestic electricity and gas bills have now overtaken council tax as the biggest driver of debt for households, regulators have warned.

Ofgem has told UK ministers that the energy debt currently stands at £2.5bn with Scotland’s share estimated to be at £220m.

The Scottish SPCA said more than 4,000 people contacted its animal helpline in 2022 to give up their pet.

That number has more than trebled from 2021, with many citing financial circumstances as the main factor in being unable to care for their pet anymore.

Owen Sharp, CEO of Dogs Trust, said: “This is heart-breaking research, and sadly chimes with what we have already seen at the Dog’s Trust. 

“Research we published recently found that a third of the UK’s dog owners are worried that the cost of living will impact their ability to give their dog all the care it needs this year.

READ MORE: Crisis-hit Scots firms to put up prices - but closures still expected 

“It’s only the start of 2023 but we’ve already seen a record high in the number of inquiries from people who need to give up their dogs. 

“If you’re a dog owner who is struggling, we can offer support, training and advice to help keep you and your dog together.”

CAS is running Big Energy Saving Winter, a campaign encouraging people worried about energy bills and the cost of living to seek advice. 

The Citizens Advice network unlocked more than £132million for people last year, through things like social security payments and employment entitlements.
 People who saw a financial gain were over £4,200 better off.