Dressing up dogs leading to rise in skin problems

Dressing up dogs leading to rise in skin problems
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Do you pop a coat on your dog for walkies? Eight in ten of us do despite vets saying the majority of breeds don’t need to wear clothes. In fact, this craze for dressing dogs is causing a rise in skin complaints, says Direct Line Pet Insurance. One in three vets questioned by the insurer is concerned that clothing pooches can cause rubbing against the skin while over a quarter of vets said the use of coats can cause stress and overheating.

Skin damage

A staggering 81 per cent of pet owners have a coat for their dog, while others have reflective outfits (31 per cent) and jumpers (21 per cent). Some owners go one step further and dress their dog up in t-shirts (16 per cent), hats and shoes (both seven per cent) and even dresses (five per cent).

The three most common skin complaints in dogs seen by vets are atopic dermatitis (a chronic skin disease associated with allergies), otitis (an inflammatory disease in the external ear canal or middle ear), and allergies as a result of fleas.

The majority of vets and veterinary nurses identified the West Highland White Terrier as the breed most susceptible to skin conditions, followed by Shar Peis and Labradors (both 35 per cent) and Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Boxers (both 26 per cent).

Why we dress pets

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Despite owners worrying that their dogs may be cold in the winter, vets say they typically don’t need to wear clothes. Their skin is well protected with hair and, although they may get wet, they dry off quickly and rain is unlikely to do them any harm. This runs contrary to the main reasons owners cite for dressing up dogs, as more than three quarters (78 per cent) that do so say it is to protect their animal from bad weather and keep them warm (53 per cent).

Dr Andrew Francis RCVS at Pawsquad, 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.”