A photo of a dog marked with what appears to be a Nazi swastika has caused outrage online.

However, the SPCA, who investigated a complaint, has said that there is more to the incident.

A Reddit user shared the image yesterday, claiming that the owners had "Nazi emblems around his house."

The user, from North Auckland, went on to say that he would be reporting the case to the SPCA amid concerns for the dog's welfare.

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Others posted in support of calling authorities, with one saying: "Appalling that these trashy folk all over the world are allowed to own and handle animals. Someone get this pup away."

Another added: "Absolutely awful. Poor wee thing. Pleased to hear SPCA was contacted. Hopefully the doggo can be rehomed."

The SPCA claim the image was due to a resident's screenprinting.
The SPCA claim the image was due to a resident's screenprinting.

The SPCA confirmed to the Herald today that they made a visit to the property, but claimed that there was more to the case than what was posted online.

"After receiving an animal welfare complaint this morning, an SPCA Inspector visited the property and interviewed the owners. The investigation revealed that the owners believe this was not done on purpose.

"The flatmate of the dog owner does screenprinting of heavy metal t-shirts, and the dog sat on the screenprint and got fabric paint on his back.

"The paint is not easily removed, and the dog has sensitive skin issues (which are being managed by a vet), so the owners need to be careful about the products they use to get the paint off so it doesn't irritate his skin further.

"SPCA does not ever condone purposely decorating, painting or dying the fur or feathers an animal, regardless of the reason for doing so - but would be incredibly disgusted to discover someone was using an innocent animal as a platform for spreading messages of hate."

Since the Christchurch mosque attacks in March of this year there has been an increased focus on the use of the symbol, with stores selling Nazi regalia protested and a comedian assaulted after using it as part of his act.

It's illegal to display Nazi items in a number of countries including Germany, France, Austria, the Ukraine and Russia.