Calls to give up pets in Scotland have more than doubled in the last year, animal welfare chiefs have warned.

The Scottish SPCA saw a huge increase of 134% in unwanted animals after an 'explosion' in demand for pets during the country's first lockdown last year.

Between September 1, 2020 and January 5, 2021, Scotland’s animal welfare charity received 476 calls from people looking to give up their animals. This compares to 205 calls in the same period in 2019/20.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn explains that although it was a predicted change, it was still a high volume of calls to receive about a serious situation.

READ MORE: Some of the more unusual rescues performed by the SPCA

He said: “It is heartbreaking to see a healthy animal which loves their family given up because the owners have lost interest or not considered how their circumstances may change.

Giving pets up for adoption can be damaging for the animals, but especially for young ones during the pandemic, Mr Flynn explains.

“Whilst not such a big issue for kittens, a generation of pups will have grown up in a household where the family is often around," he said. "Once that situation changes it can be hard for a dog to adjust and this can lead to behavioural issues and separation anxiety.

HeraldScotland:

"These issues can lead to dogs being destructive and it is at this point many owners consider giving their pet up.

“What they don’t realise is that the dog is acting this way because of its own experiences, not because of any ingrained issue.”

The Scottish SPCA suggests that pet owners explore all other avenues before turning to adoption, such as seeing a reputable behaviourist or taking training classes.

READ MORE: Dog owners warned of potentially 'toxic' grit

Mr Flynn said: “If anyone is no longer able or willing to look after their pet, they should contact us for advice and we will do what we can.

“People who are considering adopting an animal should think long and hard about their circumstances and whether it is the right thing to do.”

Anyone considering giving up their animal should contact the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999 in confidence.