As we all snuggle in for winter’s coldest months, it’s important to keep our dogs warm on dog walks and on chilly nights in our homes. Dog coats and dog sweaters can be a great way to keep your dog warm–but could your dog have an allergic reaction to the fabrics?
Head Vet Sean McCormack from Great Britain’s tails.com shared his insight on dogs and sweaters (which the British call jumpers) in this guest post.
“It can be more tempting than ever to dress up your furry friend and get them to pose for a photo. As cute as it might look on Instagram, many dogs do not actually enjoy wearing jumpers, while others may be irritated by certain fabrics the clothes are made from.
It’s not just allergic reactions to fabrics that can be an issue, rubbing and restricting movement can also irritate your dog.”
Which fabrics should I avoid when buying a sweater for my dog?
“One of the main offenders is wool. While luxurious for most humans, wool can be very irritating for dogs. Wool might seem like a good, warm choice for a dog jumper, but for pups with sensitive skin it can cause itching and discomfort.
Another fabric that might cause irritation is nylon. While nylon is a very commonly used fabric, canines who are allergic can experience itchy and inflamed skin. If your pet has toys, blankets and collars made from nylon, a jumper should also be safe.
Faux fur can be hugely itchy for certain dogs. While it is great for keeping humans warm, there is a risk of it being incredibly irritating for dogs. It could also cause dogs with thicker coats to overheat, as they are, essentially, already wearing an insulated coat.
A less obvious fabric is that of cotton blends. If an item of doggy clothing isn’t crafted from 100% pure cotton, it is usually woven with polyester or nylon – which can cause your dogs to itch.
Finally, we have feathers. If a festive costume party is on the horizon for you and your pooch, then feathers are a definite no-go. As well as presenting a potential choking hazard, feathers can be extremely irritating for dogs.
Even if feathers are not in direct contact with your dog’s skin, a jacket or coat filled with goose down could also present the same problem. Due to this, you should always check what outdoor dog clothes are stuffed with.”
How can I tell if my dog is allergic to sweaters?
“If your dog is irritated or, worse, having an allergic reaction to a certain type of material, there are always signs you can look out for:
- Cuts on the skin that show a dog has been scratching
- Weeping eyes
- Excessive scratching
- Skin redness caused by scratching
- Bald patches caused by hair loss
- A runny nose
- Itchy ears
- Swelling around the face
- Head shaking
- Swelling feet
If your pooch starts to present any of the more serious signs of irritation or a reaction, such as swelling, baldness, cuts or even infections, it is essential that you take them to a vet.
In order to avoid any unnecessary stress for your furry friend, we would recommend only dressing your dogs in clothes made from pure cotton. When making a decision on whether or not to dress your pooch in a festive jumper, you should always prioritize their happiness and well-being.
Certain dogs find wearing any sort of additional clothing extremely uncomfortable and stressful, and the feeling of annoyance can be difficult to recognize.
Making Sure Your Dog Is Comfortable
When making the decision, check whether your dog can move freely in the clothing. The clothing should not be restricting their movement in any way – they should be able to eat, breathe, drink and visit the toilet easily.
Make sure your dog is not wearing clothing for a long period of time. If they start to show signs of distress, remove the outfit immediately.
When the heating’s on and the house is crowded, your home can become hot and uncomfortable for your dog. If your dog has a warm jumper on, they may overheat quickly.
It’s important to monitor the temperature of your home and pet, if they start to display signs of overheating, including panting and salivation then it’s a clear sign your dog is uncomfortable.
Signs Your Dog is Uncomfortable in Clothing
It can be difficult to read your dog’s body language, but there are key signs to recognize if your pet feels irritated when wearing clothing, including:
- they have their tail tucked between their legs
- rubbing against furniture
- excessive licking
If your pet is wearing a fun festive jumper, then they shouldn’t be left unattended near potential hazards including a fire. Check before putting a jumper on your pets that the surrounding environment can’t cause any harm to your pet, or that the clothing itself fits correctly and won’t cause injury from snagging or discomfort.”
Thursday 20th of January 2022
I always said I would never put clothes on a dog but Sophie my first dog gets the same consideration, if I need a jacket, Sophie gets one of hers on with fleece lining. It comes off when we go back in. If raining waterproof one.
I have an issue tho, Zeke, my foster soon mine I hope 🤞🏼, will NOT let me take his sweatshirt off. Right now winter, but upper 70s today. A friend says maybe it helps his fears like a thundershirt? He was abused neglected on rescue and has fear biting issue so maybe. Then he needs cooler shirt!
Saturday 22nd of January 2022
@Cheryl Aisoff, It's interesting how different each dog is about clothing! Tiki will not wear anything more than a collar and harness--but Barli LOVES sweaters. I think that's a really good theory that Zeke might like that comforting feeling of swaddling in a sweatshirt! Fingers crossed that he's found his forever home with you!