People who dress their dogs up in jumpers, coats and t-shirts could be causing them to develop skin problems, vets have said.
A survey found that 81% of people put clothes on their pets, despite vets saying they are unnecessary for animals.
Experts warned that these clothes can rub against the skin, causing discomfort, while others cited ‘stress’ and ‘overheating’ as concerns.
Direct Line Pet Insurance, who carried out a survey of more than 1,300 pet owners, found that the majority of owners (81%) have a coat for their dog. Meanwhile almost one third own reflective outfits (31%) for their pups while one in five (21%) have jumpers.
Some owners go one step further and dress their dog up in t-shirts (16%), hats and shoes (both 7%) and even dresses (5%).
While it might look cute on the face of it, most breeds of dog aren’t really meant to be dressed in clothes.
The three most common skin complaints seen by vets are atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease associated with allergies; otitis which is an inflammatory disease in the external ear canal or middle ear; and allergies, as a result of fleas.
Out of 23 vets and veterinary nurses, the majority (70%) identified the West Highland White Terrier as the breed most susceptible to skin conditions, followed by Shar Peis and Labradors (both 35%) and Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Boxers (both 26%).
Dr Andrew Francis RCVS, chief operations officer at Pawsquad (a company that sends vets out to people’s homes), said: “Owners should be mindful that sometimes putting their dogs in clothing can cause skin damage, as the added materials can irritate a dog’s skin.
“Skin disease is the most common reason for people seeking an online veterinary consultation and, while easily treated, can cause problems if left for a long period of time. If any owner is concerned their dog may be suffering from skin disease they should speak to a vet.”
Despite owners worrying that their dogs may be cold in the winter, advice from veterinary professionals is that they typically don’t need to wear clothes as their skin is well protected with hair and, although they may get wet, they dry off quickly.
Among those who do dress their pets up, more than three quarters (78%) said they do so to protect their animal from bad weather while more than half (53%) say they do it to keep warm.
One in 10 confess they do it because it looks nice (10%) while some admit it is done as a fashion accessory (7%).