Why does my dog lick metal? This is also the same question I asked myself a few years ago when my dog Sherlock started licking our spare pipes in the garage. It’s not just a random lick, but a full-on tongue slather. I’m quite concerned since it’s not typical for Sherlock to put his mouth on dirty metal. I asked the vet, and below are the possibilities he discussed:
Reasons why dogs lick metal
1. Your dog has Pica
One of the first possibilities that Sherlock’s vet discussed is Pica. This is a condition that leads animals and even humans to ingest inedible things. It can be anything your dog can get its paws on. It can be your drywall, shoes, plastic bags, and their toys.
Pica can be due to a variety of things. It can be behavioral, psychological, or physiological. There’s also a possibility that your dog has an underlying illness causing him to consume inedible things.
Pica is most common in adolescents to adult dogs. However, senior canines can also show symptoms of Pica, but it’s usually due to their declining cognition.
Take note that Pica is a worrisome condition. Since your dog can eat just about anything, it can get poisoned or choked. If your dog has become obsessed with licking metal and chewing things, it’s best to consult a veterinarian.
2. The metal has a good taste
On a less serious note, the metal might be tasty to your dog. Some say that metal surfaces tend to have a taste similar to strawberries. If you’re giving strawberries to your dog, it might be associating the metal taste to it.
You may notice that your dog is trying to chew the metal. While this isn’t always a Pica, you shouldn’t tolerate the behavior since the metal might contain infectious substances.
3. Your dog is bored
Dogs that are left alone with nothing to do will find ways to entertain themselves. This might include licking metal or just about anything that intrigues them.
Since metal surfaces have a certain taste, dogs will keep licking them to stay busy. This can happen a lot to high-energy dogs that aren’t given enough physical and mental stimulation.
Over time, this behavior may develop into obsessive-compulsive disorder. Aside from metal, dogs with compulsive disorders will start to lick the air and chew other objects. In worst cases, self-mutilation will occur if the dog vents its compulsiveness into its own body.
4. Your dog has a nutrient deficiency
Lastly, your dog might be suffering from some kind of nutrient deficiency. Its food may not be sufficient, so it’s trying to compensate by licking metal. Your dog might not be getting potassium, iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals it needs.
Dogs that can’t stop licking metal could be suffering from a mineral deficiency. It could be chair or table legs and even radiators. I suggest that you assess your canine’s diet if there’s a need to switch to a new food product or add a supplement.
How to stop dogs from licking metal
Make it unappealing
One of the easiest ways to stop a dog from chewing or licking something is making it taste awful. Bitter apple is my go-to solution here since it’s bitter but safe for pets. You only have to spray it on the metal your dog is licking. Once your dog tastes the bitter flavor, it will leave the metal alone. I haven’t seen a dog tolerate bitter apple, so it should work like magic.
If bitter apple isn’t handy, you can try lemon juice. However, this might cause rusting, so proceed at your own risk.
Whatever you use to deter your dog from licking metal, make sure that it’s safe and not going to cause serious irritation.
Distract your dog
Some dogs that lick metal are bored. To stop its obsession with metal, you can increase your pet’s exercise and playtime. This will drain excess energy so your dog won’t have the motivation to go looking for metal to lick.
You can also get interactive toys that will keep your dog engaged. Daily walks also do wonders here aside from basic obedience training.
Keep metals away
If there’s a specific metal your dog loves licking, you should keep it away. You can block fixed metal surfaces with furniture so your dog won’t have access to it.
Consult the vet
If your dog is still keen to lick metal, it’s best to consult the veterinarian. This is to rule out possible medical conditions that are pushing your dog to seek metal surfaces.
In the worst cases, the vet can provide sedatives or calming aids to keep your dog from obsessive licking. You may also need to switch your dog’s diet in case the vet finds any type of deficiency.
Why does my dog keep licking his metal cage?
Your dog’s cage may have a nice taste, so it keeps licking. Aside from that, licking might be accompanied by biting as an effort to escape.
However, you should also know that dogs engage in obsessive behavior when they are scared and extremely stressed. With that, licking the cage might be a sign that your pet isn’t happy or comfortable inside.
You should also consider the possibility of an underlying health problem. Taking your dog to the vet’s clinic is the best move here.
Is licking rust bad for dogs?
If your dog is licking rusty metal, you don’t really have to worry much about the corrosion. Rust itself isn’t toxic to dogs when ingested. However, rust can get flaky with sharp edges, which can cause wounds on your dog’s mouth.
However, rusty surfaces are porous, so it harbors the nastiest dirt and a slew of bacteria. If your dog only ingested a small amount, it’s unlikely to cause serious irritations. Still, you should observe your dog in case it has a history of a sensitive stomach.
Can dogs get tetanus from licking metal rust?
It’s a common myth that rusty metal is a source of tetanus. The truth is that the Clostridium tetani bacterium doesn’t just live on rusty surfaces. It can be found on dust, dirt, and even your dog’s mouth. While rusty metal might be a source, it’s not always the case.
In general, tetanus isn’t common, but you should still discourage your dog from eating rust.
Why does my dog lick metal? It can be an obsessive habit, intriguing taste, or a health problem. Whatever it is, you should discourage your pet from licking. Various surfaces are reeking with contaminants that your dog may acquire through licking. If you’re worried about your pet’s health, you can always consult the vet.