South London dog owners are being urged not to throw sticks or dress their pets after experts warned both can be dangerous.

Despite vets recommending most dogs don't need to wear clothes, owners are increasingly treating their beloved pets like toys and children by dressing them up.

According to new research from Direct Line Pet Insurance and vets Pawsquad, putting dogs in clothes like jumpers, coats and t-shirts can have an adverse effect on them.

A third of vets said clothes 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.

For dogs susceptible to allergies, having a dehumidifier can be helpful, as can checking the dog’s diet to ensure it is eating hypoallergenic foods.

The West Highland white terrier is the breed most susceptible to skin conditions, followed by Shar Peis, labradors, Staffordshire bull terriers and boxers.

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Dr Andrew Francis, 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.

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Meanwhile, figures from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) also revealed that three in four vets have seen dogs injured by stick-throwing antics in the last year.

Dog injuries from sticks can range from cuts and scrapes in a dog’s mouth, to infections from stick splinters, and life-threatening injuries such as the stick becoming lodged in their throat.

Even when the initial wound is treated, splinters of the wood can become buried and lead to infection, requiring subsequent operations or treatment.

The majority of vets surveyed by BVA had, on average, seen a couple of stick injury cases in the last 12 months – yet one vet had seen 50 cases.

BVA president and vet Gudrun Ravetz said: "In practice I have seen cases of traumatic stick injuries that have caused real problems for the dogs, and have needed extensive investigations and surgery.

"Even small splinters can cause big problems.

"We would never discourage owners from exercising or playing with their dog as there are enormous benefits for their health, as well as our physical health and mental wellbeing, we simply ask that owners swap sticks for dog-safe toys instead to avoid easily preventable and distressing injuries."