DOG owners who dress up their pets are contributing to a rise in skin complaints, according to vets.

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

In a survey of vets by Direct Line Pet Insurance, 32 per cent said it can cause rubbing against the skin, while others cited stress and overheating as concerns.

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.

However, the majority of owners surveyed (81%) have a coat for their dog, while others have reflective outfits (31%) and jumpers (21%). Some owners go one step further and dress their dog up in t-shirts (16%), hats and shoes (7%) and even dresses (5%).

Dr Andrew Francis RCVS, chief operations officer at mobile vet company 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.”

The majority (70%) 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 and Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Boxers.

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.

According to vets, the most common forms of treatment for skin problems in dogs are antibiotics (28%), steroids/steroid creams (22%) and flea prevention like spot on and collars (17%). 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.