Vet issues stark warning to pet owners over Christmas jumpers for cats and dogs this festive season

  • Vet Sean McCormack has warned of the ‘itchy’ and ‘restricting’ fabrics on pets
  • READ MORE: Vets hit out at Christmas dog jumpers with ‘bah humbug’ slogans

With temperatures rapidly cooling as the UK’s winter season descends, some pet owners are taking extra measures to make sure their furry friends are also wrapped up while outdoors. 

The market for pet clothing has rocketed over recent years, with Fashion Network UK reporting that 75% of 1000 surveyed owners admitted purchasing outfits for their pets, even if only for one-off events such as Christmas.

However, with searches for festive jumpers for dogs having increased by 284% this month, a vet has warned of the dangers of dressing your pets for Christmas. 

Sean McCormack, Head Vet at, has warned that particular fabrics can be itchy and irritating to an animal’s fur and skin, and that tight materials can restrict movement for your pet.

The vet has detailed which fabrics should be avoided, how to spot the symptoms of a possible allergic reaction and how to recognise when your pet is uncomfortable.

Vet Sean McCormack has warned that particular fabrics can be itchy and irritating to an animal’s fur and skin (stock image)

Sean told Belfast Live: ‘With Christmas day fast approaching, 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.’

Sean explained that although allergic reactions to certain materials can occur, it is the rubbing and restrictiveness that can cause your pet irritation.

According to the vet, one of the main offenders that can cause irritation in pets is wool. While it’s a desirable material for most humans, wool can be highly uncomfortable for pups and felines with sensitive skin. 

Sean added: ‘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.’

However, if your pet is regularly in contact with products containing nylon, such as blankets, toys and collars, a nylon jumper should be safe for them to wear for a limited amount of time. 

Sean has also stated that faux fur can cause itchiness for certain breeds of dogs.

Although the material is ideal for keeping humans warm, there is a risk that faux fur can cause dogs with thicker coats to overheat, because they have natural insulation. 

How to spot severe irritation or allergic reactions to fabrics in your pet

  • Weeping eyes
  • Excessive scratching
  • A runny nose
  • Itchy ears
  • Sneezing
  • Head shaking
  • Swelling feet
  • Swelling around the face 
  • Skin redness caused by scratching
  • Bald patches caused by hair loss
  • Cuts on the skin that show a dog has been scratching

If your furry friend 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.

The vet has also warned of less obvious fabric such as that of cotton blends. If an item of pet clothing is not made from 100% pure cotton, it can cause irritation.

Feathers are definite no-go, according to Sean, because they present as both a choking hazard and an extreme irritation for dogs in particular, even if not directly touching their fur. 

Sean advises that in order to avoid any unnecessary stress for your pet when dressing them in clothing, it is recommended that items are made from pure cotton. 

When making a decision on whether or not to dress your pooch or feline in a festive jumper, pet owners should always prioritise their happiness and wellbeing. 

Particular dog breeds find wearing any sort of additional layers incredibly stressful, and the feeling of annoyance can often be difficult to recognise.

It is advised by Sean that your dog or cat is not wearing clothing for a long period of time – and if they begin to display signs of distress, remove the outfit immediately.

Sean has also warned of the likelihood of heat from other sources causing irritation in pets, such as extra guests in the home or central heating being switched on.

He said: ‘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.’

Sean added that although it can be difficult at times to read your pet’s body language, some of the key sings in recognising when they’re irritated are: having their tail tucked between their legs, rubbing against furniture or excessive licking.

He concluded: ‘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.’

In 2022, researchers from Spain’s Basque Country University warned that owners who dress dogs in clothing may see their beloved pooch as human.

They found people are more likely to buy them an outfit if they show signs of seeing the dog as human. This also includes celebrating the pet’s birthday and giving them nicknames like ‘baby’ and ‘sweetheart’. 

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