Why Do Dogs Lick Metal? (Explained!)

It can be hard for dogs to keep their tongues inside their mouths!

If you’re a dog parent, you know that very well. Whether they’re outside practicing their investigative skills or at home snuggling next to you, these furry creatures love to lick. They can be licking unusual objects like metals. 

Why do dogs lick metal is a mind-boggling question even to those who own dogs. Here are some points that might shed light on this odd behavior:

  1. Pica in dogs
  2. Traumatic experience or abuse
  3. Fear and anxiety
  4. Boredom
  5. Because they like it!

Dogs licking non-food items or surfaces shouldn’t be a cause for concern either way. It’s a type of behavior typical to dogs. However, dog parents must always be mindful of their pet’s health and wellbeing. 

If you think your dog’s behavior is a bit out of the ordinary, then go ahead, talk to your vet to get some answers. It’s better safe than sorry!

Signs to watch out for if your dog often licks metal

It’s not unusual for our canine companions to lick or chew on metal objects. They may lick their metal crate, dog tag, or even your bracelet. Metal-licking may also be a sign of underlying health or mental issues. 

To help you assess whether your pet’s licking habit is a serious health threat or not, pay attention to any of the following so you can take action when needed.


if your dog snacks on objects or substances other than food, chances are your pet is suffering from this condition. Signs to watch out for include poor appetite, lack of activity, excessive drooling, vomiting, or indigestion. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pet to the vet as soon as you can.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

There can be a few reasons for OC behavior in dogs. It could be as simple as boredom to as serious as trauma. Either way, anxious and mentally disturbed dogs may resort to compulsive behavior. It may be in the form of licking metallic objects or eating poop. Regardless, this behavior won’t go away unless you consult an expert and address it properly. 

Other warning signs and symptoms – If metal-licking has become recurrent, observe your dog more closely. Check out for any physical signs such as lethargy, change in eating habits, diarrhea, or difficulty pooping. If they show at least 1-2 of these symptoms, visit your vet right away to get treatment.

Steps to stop compulsive metal licking behavior in dogs

Step #1 – Give your dog at least an hour of exercise every day. Keep your pet busy. Let them use their energy through muscle-building and brain-stimulating activities, so they won’t get bored. 

Step #2 – Keep metals or non-edibles out of your dog’s reach. Help your dog to stop eating objects that aren’t supposed to be in their mouths. Instead, offer them plenty of pet-friendly toys to distract them from engaging in destructive behavior. 

Step #3 – Train, practice, and praise. Teach your dog how to avoid things that can harm them. This involves “re-training” your canine pet to control certain behaviors. If you catch them gnawing on your soccer ball, or licking a rusty piece of metal, swap it with a treat, and then praise if they release the object. 

Step #4 – Consult your vet. Always seek expert advice when dealing with unusual behaviors in dogs. Your vet can help determine your dog’s motivation behind his or her weird behavior. In most cases, complex behaviors are caused by underlying health or mental issues. Thus, it’s best to ask an animal health expert for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Step #5 – Develop a closer bond with your pet. Maybe your dog craves your attention and diverts it to licking objects instead. A dog that’s showered with love, care, and enough attention is a happy and healthy dog. 

What to do when your dog swallows unusual objects

It’s indeed big trouble when your furry companion is both a big licker and chewer. Just like innocent toddlers, our dogs (especially the young ones) enjoy playing and eating stuff… even those that they shouldn’t eat or play with. 

Just in case your dog swallows something it shouldn’t have, here are some steps to take to save your dog from deeper trouble. 

  • If you’re sure that your pet swallowed an object, call your vet immediately and take your dog to the clinic ASAP. 
  • Do not induce vomiting without consulting your animal doctor. If you don’t know the type of object they swallowed, it may only cause more harm to force your dog to vomit. 
  • If you think they swallowed a toxic or poisonous substance, contact ASPCA for help. 
  • Is your dog choking? See if any foreign object is stuck inside their mouth or in their throat. If yes, do not attempt to remove it. Call your vet right away so they can sedate your pet for safe removal of the object.

Related Questions

Is it okay for dogs to lick metal?

Yes, but only if it’s not too much. If you notice that it becomes a pattern or consistent behavior, then it might be best to consult your vet. Licking can be a way for them to release stress or cope with anxiety. And a rusty cage, your necklace, or a metal scrap you forgot to throw away are just some of the metallic things that your dog may lick or chew on. 

Why does my dog lick my jewelry?

Same with licking metals, dogs have a natural tendency to lick things that are new, or they find interesting, like a shiny piece of jewelry. If you think this behavior looks compulsive and habitual, and if they even chew on and actually ingest non-edibles like a discarded piece of foam or plastic, it could be a sign of canine pica, a condition that may need professional treatment. 

Is licking rust bad for dogs?

While rust is not toxic for dogs, your pet may get injured from licking dirty and rusty metallic objects. Their tongue may get abrasions or cuts. Wounds caused by rusty objects can become a source of wound infection in your dog. 

Why Do Dogs Lick Metal? (Explained!)

Final Thoughts

Dogs are naturally curious creatures. And when they investigate, they use their mouth and tongue. The only way to keep our dogs out of harm’s way is to make our place as pet-friendly as possible. 

Keep your things in their proper storage areas. Don’t let your things scattered around, especially on the floor. If you do, you will soon catch your dog red-handed!

If you want to stop your dog from developing poor habits, then help them learn and remember good behavior. Make it easy for them to avoid nibbling, licking, or eating things they should not touch in the first place. Be a good and responsible parent to your furry buddy. 

Our dog’s overall health and wellbeing largely depend on us. If we think about it, why do dogs lick metal is a question we should know the answers to. Animal behavior is more often a response to several factors, including food deprivation, nutrient deficiency, dog parenting, and stressors. 

At the end of the day, we can only do so much for our pets. So just continue to do the things that you can in the best way possible. 

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