Christmas Jumper day may have passed, but tis’ the season for dressing up in all manner of deliberately ugly festive outfits- and that’s just the humans.
In recent years, there has been a growing trend of dressing dogs in appropriately Christmassy garb, and with many popular high street brands offering matching Christmas jumpers for pets and their owners, it seems more prevalent than ever.
However, while it can make for a perfect picture for your Instagram feed, it has raised questions as to whether it is healthy, or indeed necessary for dogs to wrap up during the winter months.
Dogs cannot regulate their own body temperature as efficiently as humans due to their inability to sweat in the same way, and can be prone to overheating, with some experts raising concerns about dogs overheating in clothing just for the sake of fashion.
The insurance company pet plan posed the question to two veterinary experts about whether jumpers were merely a fashion statement or something that could potentially even be harmful to your pet.
Brian Faulkner, Veterinary Surgeon explained that how acutely dogs feel the cold can depend on the breed and the length of their fur.
“Short-coated breeds don’t have the option of trapping as much air within their fur that acts as a natural form of insulation.” He said.
“Fortunately, the climate in the UK isn’t as extreme in terms of the winter freeze as other parts of Europe and North America.”
Although Brian concedes that some short-haired breeds could benefit from, and indeed appreciate a little insulation from a light jacket or thin jumper in cold weather, he also stresses the importance of considering when it is not necessary.
“It is therefore important to consider whether a coat used whilst walking is still required when running.” I have added.
This sentiment is echoed by Dog Behaviorist Nick Jones who explains that owners should use their common sense to assess the needs of their own dog, highlighting poodle mixes, Labradors and whippets as those more likely to need some additional warmth.
He said: “Some of the poodle mixes coats once wet do not dry off as most other dog coats would, they hold the wet and dirt much more than a dog with a smooth short coat such as a Labrador, whippet or Vizsla would, so a coat for these dogs is perfectly acceptable in inclement or muddy conditions.
“There can be a gray area where fashion meets function, and so each dog can be looked at on its own merits.
“With my now departed Max, a Wire-Haired Vizsla, he did not have the thickest of coats and so post play in the sea, I would place a dog appropriate sweater on him should we then go to a cafe and he was still wet to a degree after toweling down, as this would stave off the shivers.
“Some smaller, less active dogs can benefit from a body cover and this could be another good example of when a cover or jumper may help.”
However, both experts were in agreement that dogs did not need to wear jumpers or other items of clothing in a warm environment, like a restaurant or family home.
Too many extra layers in that kind of insulated environment can lead to a dog suffering health complications such as overheating or dehydration, so while dressing your dog for a photo shoot round the Christmas tree can make for an adorable moment, the jumper shouldn’t be left on for a long period of time afterwards.
Nick added: “Overheating and not letting the dog’s coat regulate the dog’s temperature in the home may be encountered when wearing a garment in the home, so I would encourage the home to be a balanced temperature for both humans and dogs and no dog garments in the home.”
Brian said: “There is generally no need for any healthy dog to wear any form of clothing whilst inside the home. Dogs do not have the same thermoregulatory mechanisms as people and unfortunately well-intentioned gestures can cause more issues than they resolve.”
Both experts stress the importance of taking a sensible approach when it comes to dressing up dogs, and not purely prioritizing fashion over a dog’s health and wellbeing.
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