Travellers have been asked to avoid visiting a newly-opened café in China where the star attraction is six chow chow dogs that have been dyed to look like panda cubs.

A chow chow dog painted as a giant panda as seen at a pet cafe in China
They look adorable but dye can be harmful © China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

The Cute Pet Games cafe opened last month in Chengdu in the south-west Sichuan province, tapping into the worldwide trend for cafés where animal-lovers can relax in the company of cats and dogs. As well as serving food and drink, the "panda" dogs roam around for visitors to pet. According to the owner of the cafe, Mr Huang, the café also provides a dyeing service to customers who wish to give their own dogs the panda treatment, and staff are specially employed to carry out the task.

Chow chow dogs painted as giant pandas are seen at a pet cafe
Chow chow dogs are painted as panda cubs in China © China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

However, while some people think it's adorable, animal welfare groups and some social media users are unhappy with the practice. The American animal rights organisation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is urging travellers to stay away from any business that it says exploits animals for money-making gimmicks and social media likes.

Chow chow dogs painted as giant panda are seen at a pet cafe
Chow chow dogs are dyed to look like panda cubs in China © China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

"There are far better ways to show appreciation for pandas than by using sensitive dogs as dyeable decorative displays," says Lisa Lange, senior vice president of communications at PETA US. "Coating dogs with chemical dyes is stressful and can even cause allergic reactions on their skin, nose and eyes."

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