Dogs have been known to lick all sorts of things – their butts, each other’s faces, and sometimes even the dirt. But one of the most puzzling behaviors dogs can exhibit is when they start licking metal objects.
There are many possible causes for your pup’s strange habit that range from just being curious about something new to serious health problems that require immediate vet care.
Here are seven common reasons why your dog might be licking metal objects.
1. There Is Something on the Metal Objects
Your dog is lounging on the living room floor when they see you coming down the hallway with a freshly baked bagel. They perk up their ears and start to wag their tail as they get ready to snag a bite. But as you get closer, they realize that there are no crumbs to be found—every single one has been cleaned up!
That’s when your dog’s nose starts to twitch as they catch a whiff of something strange. They look up and see that the toaster is still on the counter, and suddenly, the pieces fall into place. There must have been a crumb or two left under there, and your dog just couldn’t resist licking it clean.
This is the simplest reason why dogs lick metal objects because, quite simply, there’s something stuck on them that the dog wants to eat.
Owners should still take this opportunity to check whether or not there are any foreign objects on the metal that their dog is licking. There may be a bug crawling around, or there’s a chance that another animal may have left a present behind in the form of a dead rodent.
2. Your Dog Might like the Taste of Paint
I was always under the impression that my dog licking metal objects was a weird habit until I read that it could actually be due to a craving for paint. Apparently, some dogs like the taste of paint that somewhat resembles the flavor of strawberry.
You may be surprised to find that your pup likes the taste of paint but it’s actually not that uncommon. Some dogs will lick anything that has a strange or unfamiliar flavor to humans, including paint.
It’s not just fresh paint that smells tantalizing to dogs – old paint, too, can be irresistible! In fact, many dogs will develop a taste for lead paint, which is unfortunately quite toxic.
So if you’re ever renovating your home, be sure to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t go near any painted surfaces.
3. Your Dog Is Curious
One of the most common reasons why dogs lick metal objects is simply because they are curious about it. Just like when humans see something new, dogs will often lick and sniff at metal objects in order to learn more about them.
This curiosity can sometimes lead to trouble, especially if the metal object contains lead paint or another harmful substance. But for the most part, a little exploration is harmless and can actually be quite entertaining for both dog and owner alike.
4. Some Dogs May Lick Because It Relieves Them from Boredom or Anxiety
Licking can be a way for some dogs to relieve boredom or anxiety. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a dog to start licking anything in sight if they’re feeling restless or antsy.
For example, let’s say that your dog is usually very active and always running around. But one day, you accidentally leave them cooped up in the house all day while you’re at work.
In this case, licking may be their way of trying to relieve the boredom and anxiety they’re feeling. This is also why some dogs will start licking everything including metal objects when they’re left alone – because it gives them something to do and helps calm them down.
5. Dogs Can Lick Metal out of a Compulsive Disorder
Dogs who compulsively lick metal objects may do so because they can’t help it! It may be that they have a behavioral disorder that causes them to lick obsessively, or it could be that they’re trying to self-soothe in times of stress.
Whatever the reason may be, compulsive licking can be a real problem for dogs and their owners. It can potentially cause several health problems for the dog, and can also be quite disruptive to everyday life.
What Causes Canine Compulsive Disorder?
There is still much unknown about the canine compulsive disorder, but researchers believe that there are several possible causes. Some of these include:
- Genetics. Dogs who have a family history of compulsive behavior are more likely to develop it themselves.
- Social and Environmental Stressors. Dogs who live in an environment where they constantly feel stressed or afraid may start licking compulsively as a way to cope.
How to Tell Whether Your Dog has a Canine Compulsive Disorder?
If you’re concerned that your dog may have a compulsive disorder, there are several signs to look out for. Some of these include:
- Excessive Licking of Objects (Not Just Metal). Dogs who compulsively lick often lick other objects in their environment, not just metal ones.
- Licking for No Apparent Reason. If your dog is licking metal objects even when there is no paint or other tasty substances to be found, this may be a sign of a compulsive disorder.
- Excessive Scratching and Chewing. Dogs who compulsively lick often scratch or chew at their skin as well.
6. It Is Possible That Your Dog Has Nutritional Deficiencies
One medical reason why some dogs may compulsively lick metal objects is that they have a disease such as anemia that causes them to crave increased levels of iron.
Anemia is a condition that develops when there are not enough red blood cells in the body. This can be caused by a variety of things, including blood loss due to injury, kidney disease, or parasitic infections.
If your dog is licking metal objects obsessively followed by other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, or pale gums you want to take them to the vet for a check-up to determine if there is an underlying medical problem.
7. Pica May Be the Culprit for Your Dog’s Desire to Lick Objects
One possible reason why some dogs lick metal objects is that they have a disorder known as Pica. Pica is a condition that causes dogs to eat things that are not food, such as dirt, stones, or metal.
There are many potential causes of Pica, including gastrointestinal disease, pancreatic disease, anxiety, or stress.
Whatever the reason may be, Pica can be a dangerous disorder for dogs because what they swallow may be poisonous or even block their digestive system. If you find that your dog is compulsively licking metal objects followed by the following symptoms, it may be the time to take them to the vet for a check-up:
- Swallowing non-food items
- Lack of appetite
7 Tips To Make Your Dog Stop Licking Metal Objects
Most dogs will lick anything they’re curious about. And while this can sometimes lead to trouble, it’s normal behavior that dogs have been displaying for centuries. They just want to explore, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
The only problem is if the dog licks something toxic or dangerous like paint-coated metal objects which could make them sick or even kill them.
So what should you do if your dog insists on licking everything in sight? Here are some tips from professional trainers on how you can stop your dog from licking metal objects:
1. Determine the Reason Why They Are Doing It
The first step in getting your dog to stop licking metal objects is to determine why they are doing it. As we saw earlier, there can be many different reasons for this behavior, so it’s important to figure out which one is applicable in your case.
2. Give Them Plenty of Toys and Things to Chew on to Keep Them Occupied.
One way to keep your dog from licking metal objects is to give them plenty of things to chew on and play with. This can include bones, Kongs, and other toys that are specifically designed for chewing.
3. Increase Their Exercise Routine
Dogs who are bored or have too much energy may turn to lick metal objects as a way to entertain themselves. To combat this, you can increase their exercise routine. A tired dog is a happy dog!
4. Make Sure They’re Getting Enough Nutrients
If you believe that your dog’s licking habit is due to a nutritional deficiency caused by a poor diet or disease, you can try to resolve the issue by changing their diet or feeding them supplements.
5. Keep Them Mentally Stimulated by Playing Games or Taking Walks Together
If your dog is licking a metal object because they’re bored, you can try to redirect their attention to something more interesting. This could be a game of fetch or simply taking a walk together. The more stimulation your dog gets, the less likely they indulge in destructive behaviors like licking metal objects.
6. Discourage Licking by Spraying a Deterrent Solution on the Object
If there is nothing wrong with your dog physically and you’ve ruled out all of the other potential reasons, you can try to discourage the licking behavior by spraying a deterrent solution on the metal object. This could be a bitter apple spray, vinegar, or lemon juice.
Here is a recipe for a homemade dog deterrent that you can make using natural ingredients:
- 1 cup of water
- 20 drops of any citrus-scented essential oil
- 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar
- Combine the water, citrus oil, and vinegar in a spray bottle.
- Shake well and spray on objects that your dog likes to lick.
- Repeat as necessary.
7. If All Else Fails, Consult Your Veterinarian for Help
If you’ve tried all of the methods above and your dog is still licking metal objects, it’s time to consult your veterinarian. Your vet can help you to rule out any medical problem like Pica or behavioral problems like Canine Compulsive Disorder and may prescribe medication or other treatments to help stop the behavior.
If your dog suffers from a compulsive disorder, behavior modification drugs may be necessary in order to control the licking behavior.
Dogs with this disorder will compulsively do repetitive destructive behaviors, even to the point of self-injury, and will not respond to traditional methods of treatment like obedience training or punishment.
Drugs like Clomipramine can be effective in controlling these behaviors, but should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian.
Dogs licking metal objects can be a puzzling behavior for pet owners. While it may seem like a random act, there are usually several reasons why dogs lick metal.
From nutritional deficiencies to anxiety relief, there are many explanations for this behavior. If your dog is constantly licking metal objects, take a closer look at what might be motivating them and work on addressing that issue.