As pet shop workers around the world can attest, Christmas is the time when pet owners go overboard in spoiling their four-legged friends.

Not only do sales of treats such as luxury cat food or doggy snacks soar over the festive period, but interest in accessories such as fancy collars and even scarves and jumpers also rises in the run up to
the big day.

However, according to animal health experts, owners shouldn't wait until Christmas to get their pet dog kitted out in a coat or jumper, nor should they wait to give them some extra food.

In fact, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) in the US recommends getting your dog wrapped up warm as soon as the winter weather starts kicking in.

Outlining its top tips for helping household pets get through the coldest months safe and sound, the American industry body notes that, while dogs and cats do have coats, "not all fur is created equal".

As such, the organisation explains in the Houston Chronicle, winter is the time to "dress your pets!"

"Short hair dogs require more coverage than long-haired ones; cats who are outside risk exposure to their ears, tails and toes which are especially vulnerable to frostbite," PIJAC notes.

"Coats and booties help to keep animals warm while outside," it adds.

At the same time, if your dog usually lives outside, then make sure its water isn't frozen over, and consider investing in good quality dog food to keep it as healthy as possible during this challenging time of the year, the organisation also says.

This comes as the Financial Times reports that pet owners in China are spending more and more money on their furry friends, with the country's upper and middle classes particularly keen to indulge them.

Reporting from this year's Shanghai Pet Fair, the newspaper notes that it's not just luxury dog food that's being snapped up by indulgent owners, but accessories such as dog-prams, body suits and luxury carry cots are also becoming increasingly popular right across the country.

Written by: Hannah