Do you pop a coat on your dog before you take him or her on a walk? Eight in 10 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, said 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.
Below, we trace the results and history of the rising epidemic.
According to recent research, a staggering 81 percent of pet owners have a coat for their dog, while others have reflective outfits (31 percent) and sweaters (21 percent). Some owners go one step further and dress their dogs in t-shirts (16 percent), hats and shoes (both seven percent) and even dresses (five percent).
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 percent), and Staffordshire bull terriers and boxers (both 26 percent).
Why we dress pets
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 percent) say they do it to protect their animals from bad weather and to keep them warm (53 percent).
Dr. Andrew Francis, a member of the U.K.'s Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, 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.”
This post was written by the editors of Yours. For more, check out our sister site Yours.
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