Dressing up dogs leading to rise in skin complaints

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Dog owners are increasingly treating their beloved pets like toys and children by dressing them up according to new research from Direct Line Pet Insurance, despite veterinary professionals recommending the majority of dog breeds don’t need to wear clothes.

Putting dogs in clothes like jumpers, coats and t-shirts can have an adverse effect on them according to vets.

A third (32 per cent) said it can cause rubbing against the skin while others cited stress (27 per cent) and overheating (23 per cent) as concerns.

The three most common skin complaints in dogs seen by vets are atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease associated with allergies, (48 per cent), otitis, an inflammatory disease in the external ear canal or middle ear (39 per cent) and allergies as a result of fleas (30 per cent).

According to vets, the most common forms of treatment for skin problems in dogs are antibiotics (28 per cent), steroids / steroid creams (22 per cent) and flea prevention like spot on and collars (17 per cent). For dogs susceptible to allergies, having a de-humidifier can be helpful, as can checking the dog’s diet to ensure it is eating hypoallergenic foods.

More than half (58 per cent) of dog owners would take their dog to a vet to assess skin conditions, while 42 per cent would choose to try and treat it at home. Despite the majority (59 per cent) spending around £50 on treatment for their dog’s skin condition, a fifth (20 per cent) spent up to £100 and 10 per cent spent more than £250.

The majority (70 per cent) 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).

Dr Andrew Francis RCVS, Chief Operations Officer 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.”

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. 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). One in ten confess they do it because it looks nice (10 per cent) while some admit it is done as a fashion accessory (seven per cent).

The majority of owners (81 per cent) 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).

Direct Line Pet Insurance has partnered with Pawsquad to offers its customers access to live chat and video calls with qualified, experienced vets to discuss their pet’s needs 24/7.

Prit Powar, head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line said: “We are delighted to announce our partnership with Pawsquad, as it means our customers are able to speak to a qualified vet any time, night or day, for additional peace of mind and without affecting the cost of their premium. We would always urge customers to see a vet in person if it is an emergency but for those cases, like skin disease, which may not need a face to face meeting the service will be invaluable.”

Existing Direct Line customers who want to sign up to Pawsquad should do so here - https://www.pawsquad.com/direct-line?utm_source=direct%20line&utm_campaign=dlandingpage&utm_medium=website