The RSPCA is warning that a no deal Brexit could have a serious negative impact on animal health and welfare.

The charity’s Chief Veterinary Officer Caroline Allen has issued a stark warning to the Government to prioritise veterinary drugs ahead of March 29.

Caroline said: “The RSPCA is concerned that in the event of a no deal Brexit there may be interruptions to the supply chain of drug supplies used in our veterinary hospitals and other vets where our rescued animals are treated.

“The lack of supply of Isoflurane - a general anaesthetic - in December due to a manufacturing issue highlights the very sudden impact a supply interruption can have on vet’s ability to carry out treatments, with the potential impact on animals’ welfare. Some non urgent procedures had to be postponed while we sought alternatives which were more costly.

“Veterinary drug supply, unlike human medicine, is not being prioritised by the Government which means supplies could be stuck at ports. Currently veterinary medicine supply in the UK is heavily reliant on imports, although exact figures are hard to come by, but ordering tends to rely on the ‘just in time’ principle. Drugs require appropriate storage and temperature monitoring, so stockpilling is not necessarily straightforward.The RSPCA has contingency plans in place for a no deal Brexit to ensure animals in our care are fed and treated but disruption is possible the longer this continues.”

Assistant director of public affairs, David Bowles added: “With just weeks to go until Britain is due to leave the European Union the RSPCA is concerned we have not yet had the reassurance we need to allay our fears over animal welfare in this country.

“Brexit is likely to have far reaching implications for all aspects of animal welfare as we have seen through the Sentience Bill and changes to the Common Agricultural Policy.

“We would now implore the government to prioritise the welfare and health of those animals most in need.”