Friday, March 27, 2015

Dealing with Metal Allergies in Dogs

One of the posts I get the most google search hits for as well as comments on is the one I wrote two years ago about metal allergies in dogs. Because I keep getting hits on that post, I wanted to give a bit of an update, with some things I've learned to do to help Koira stay comfortable.

The biggest thing when you are dealing with a dog with a metal allergy is actually to even figure out that the allergy exists in the first place. Once you do that, you have to figure out how to deal with it, and how to prevent your dog from coming into contact with metal wherever possible.  For years, I hand made collars for Koira to wear that had hard nylon hardware instead of metal, since it was almost impossible to find any collars that were totally metal free.

I'm happy to say, about 9 months ago I found a really nice quality leather collar that Koira can wear. The hardware on it is nickel, but it has black powder coating over it that prevents the metal from coming in contact with her skin. The collar is made by Tasman's. I found it at my locally owned pet supply store in my town, called Animal Crackers. They don't have a huge selection, and only a couple of their collars have the powder coating. But it works, and that is enough for me.

March 20-5256
Koira wearing her leather collar from Tasman. She has been wearing it 24/7 for nine months, at the beach, at home, everywhere. 

The powder coating is chipping a little bit where the D-ring hits the buckle. I called the company before purchasing the collar, and they were very honest with me and told me that the chipping was likely to happen, but that they didn't know how bad it would be or how long it would take. I'm lucky so far that the chipping has been pretty minor and doesn't seem to cause Koira any problems. The person I spoke to at Tasman's mentioned that they are hoping to develop a collar in the future that uses powder coated solid brass hardware, which I would absolutely purchase if it becomes available, since the chipped areas would be less likely to irritate. I didn't try it, but adding a coating of clear nail polish or other hard finish might help prevent the chipping. I would not attach tags to the D-ring, though, as I am sure that the ring used for the tags would cause the chipping to start sooner and be much more severe.

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You can see the chipping I mentioned in the powder coating here. It is minor and, for Koira, doesn't seem to be causing any problems. 

Remember, though, that metal allergies can be cummulative. A small amount of metal contact may not cause a problem, but a small amount consistently might add up to be enough to cause a serious issue for your dog. It is something you have to monitor and keep on top of. Koira comes into very little contact with metal. Besides having a leather collar with powder coated hardware, she eats out of a ceramic bowl, doesn't eat canned food except in rare cases (for those with severe metal allergies, the metal in canned foods can cause reactions due to the cummulative nature of the allergy), our water dishes are all either ceramic or plastic, her crate is powder coated steel, and she does not wear tags on her collar. Outside of the clip on her leash and getting shots at the vet, she encounters almost no metal at all. So the small amount of contact from her leash or the chipped places on her collar hardware are not enough to set off an allergic reaction in her (though when she is on leash for abnormally long times, such as at a conference where she is leashed all day, she can have some allergy issues from the metal).

These are the bowls my dogs eat out of on a daily basis. 

These are the bowls I use for the dogs. I like ceramic bowls for being metal free, not clear glass (which looks grimy so fast when used around animals), and I like these ones specifically just because they are unique and custom for my dogs. I got them on Etsy here. That said, it is much easier to find metal-free bowls to use than collars.

The crate I use for Koira is massive, and extremely heavy duty. Standard powder coated metal folding crates work fine for most dogs with a metal allergy. For Koira, though, she has chewed on the bars of that style of crate, and learned how to break out of them. So for her, I use a ProSelect Empire Cage, powder coated in pink. The heavy construction is perfect, since she not only can't get out of it, she seems to know and doesn't even try. We do still use the lighter-weight metal folding crates while traveling, though.

Koira, wearing the Original Fleece Lined Harness, in black.

When I use a harness on Koira, I use one of two kinds. Julius K-9 makes a harness that has some small amounts of metal, but in places that the metal doesn't touch the dog. The other harness I use is an x-back style, called the Original Fleece Lined Harness. It has a metal D-ring, but it is situated in a way that it doesn't touch Koira when the harness is in use.

I think those are all the products that I have found and loved that help with successfully dealing with metal allergies in dogs. The links in the post don't benefit me in any way, by the way, they are simply examples of the products so that you can find them to purchase as easily as possible if you decide you want them or want more information.

I just wanted to share some things of what we have found that work for us. Hopefully it helps some other people dealing with the same thing as well.

Update: I have now added a biothane collar with black hardware to Koira's collar collection. Biothane is waterproof and doesn't get damaged by water the way leather can, making it a great choice for summer when we spend a lot of time swimming, or for super wet rainy days. I also picked up a biothane leash, and I really, really love it. It has brass hardware, and is super soft in my hands. And, like the collar, it is totally waterproof. I got the 6 foot long, 3/8ths inch wide leash, and I love it. The links are just to show you what we're using and give you a chance to take a look at them or buy them if you want. I get no compensation for sharing them, even if you make a purchase, and I paid full price for the collar and leash. I just love them and since it is so hard to find collars for dogs with metal allergies, I wanted to share.

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You can see the new collar here. I chose the black with black hardware, and I think it looks pretty sharp.


  1. Wow! Never heard of a metal allergy in dogs, that would be real tough because everything has metal on it when we think about it. Glad you have found some good products that work for you!

  2. She is such a gorgeous girl! I'm glad you figured it out! :-)

  3. So interesting & a topic I have NEVER heard of before! Thanks for sharing it :-)

  4. I'd never heard of metal allergy in dogs either. You've found some good solutions... I was wondering about a metal crate!

  5. Interesting - I never knew about metal allergies before. Good to know.

  6. Oh wow! This is such a great post! I didn't know dogs could have metal allergies!

  7. Interesting. I have never heard of metal allergies.

  8. I have used "plasti-dip" to coat metal rings on harnesses. It works great. It the same stuff the use to coat tools with, the handle part.

  9. Thank you soooo much for posting this! After about 2 years of switching foods, medications for allergies, $$$ spent on an allergist, I've been able to narrow my dog's allergy to metal. This information is very helpful as I'm having to swap out many of our products. Michelle

  10. We figured out my weimaraner has a metal allergy when he started training. We used a metal choke colar, and he developed large cystic like areas with what looked similar to his puppy acne where the collar laid. Currently we are having issues because he is a large dog and our trainer is recommending a prong color, that only comes in metal. a gentleman in our class recommended coating it in flexseal... a rubber paint. We may try this.

  11. Thank you! I have been searching for a durable collar without metal and it has been impossible. My girl Luna gets a severe skin breakdown from the metal in most collars. Your article is very helpful!

  12. Our husky mix gets sores only around her neck which are oozing and most recently were like holes. Thought maybe bot fly but vet had no idea. Just yesterday my son pointed out that these holes are the same distance apart as the METAL prongs on the electric collar! So, maybe allergic!!
    Any thoughts on this?

    1. Could be allergic to metal, or the collar may be too tight. I'd try taking the collar off completely and see if the skin clears up. Once it is clear, try a collar again, but one such as a standard nylon with a metal buckle, and see if you notice any reaction. If there is no reaction to a collar like that, and the sore cleared up by removing the e-collar, it is likely that the collar is on too tight, being worn too many hours, etc.

  13. Thanks so much for your blog post. We adopted two senior sibling dogs, and found out the we’re allergic to metal when the got raw under their necks where their tags touched. We removed the tags, and that solved the problem. We were also feeding them a teaspoon of canned food mixed in with their kibble, all from the dog ‘health food store.’ Their eyes started watering / staining as soon as we brought them home. We eliminated foods from their diet, including the canned food. Now, I’m wondering if it was the metal can and not the food that they were allergic to. Thanks for sharing the collar options you’ve found. We will check those out