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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  I have over 20 years experience in small animal and emergency veterinary medicine
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why do dogs lick metal objects

Resolved Question:

all the puppies out of a litter of five bull terriers are constantly licking metal objects. is there something lacking in the diet
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 years ago.


Can you tell me how old are these puppies?

What are they currently being fed?

Are you giving any dietary supplements at all? - treats? vitamins?

Is there any vomiiting, diarrhea, coughing or sneezing?

Are they active and playful or are they quite lethargic?

Are they outside or inside the house?

Can you tell me what type of metal objects they are licking?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Dr. B.'s Post: The puppies are now 8 weeks old.
They are currently being fed "Honest Kitchen" Embark, plus raw meat. No supplements, tripe for treats and no vitamins.

there is no vomiting, diarrhea, coughing or sneezing.

they are active and only outside under supervison.

they are licking a patio cover post that is metal and some drawer pulls that are metal in the house.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 years ago.


I would be concerned about these puppies diet. Honest Kitchen is not a very well known brand and when I tried to research it, I could not find very much scientific information about it. Instead, all I found was the promotional information put out by the company who makes it.

The problem with pet food diets is that they are not all that well regulated - If a company does not sell across state lines, it doesn't even have to prove that what is on the label is actually what is in the product. If they do sell across state lines, there is a little more regulation, but the label can be very misleading. For instance, it may state that there is 30% protein in the product, but they do not have to prove that this is digestible protein. They could put hair in the formula which would be counted as protein, but would be totally useless for nutritional purposes. It is for these reasons that I really feel that it is much better to stick to the large brand names. They do a lot more research and publish their research so it can be reviewed by independent sources. You can feel a lot more comfortable knowing that these diets provide the nutrients they claim to.

The raw diet is a real controversial area in veterinary medicine. Most vets do not recommend it. This is not so much because of nutritional needs, but rather because of infectious diseases. Dogs can get Salmonella and E. coli infections from eating raw food, just like people can. These diseases can be life-threatening. Why take the chance?

Diets that advertise that they are all natural only means that they do not have preservatives - it does not actually mean that they are meeting the dog's nutritional needs better. As I stated above, labels can be misleading. If you really want to know how a diet has been formulated and how well it is meeting a dog's nutritional needs, you really have to contact the company that makes it and ask them to send you the research that they have done to prove this. - How many dogs has this been fed to for how long of a period? What tests were done before, during and after the feeding to determine whether it is meeting the dogs nutritional needs? If a company is not willing to share their research results with you, I would certainly wonder why. This is, of course, more work than people are usually interested in doing. That is why it is easier and safer to stick with the companies that we know carries out adequate research in putting together their pet food formulations.

Dogs are not pure carnivores (meat eaters). They are omnivores (eat both vegetable and meat). When wild dogs/wolves kill other animals in the wild for food, will actualy eat the contents from the stomach and intestines that contain grass that the killed animal has eaten before eating the rest of the body. A dog that is fed an all meat diet is not on a balanced diet.

While I cannot tell you for certain that these puppies have a nutritional deficiency and that is what is causing the licking, the diet you are describing does leave that open as a possibility. I would recommend switching over to a more established name brand (Iames, Science Diet, or even Purina would be better). While it is possible that this is only a behavior preference (they like the taste or the texture of these items), I would only make that assumption once they are on a diet that I have more confidence in.

I hope this information is helpful. If so, please click Accept. If you have additional questions, please let me know.

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