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5 Reasons Your Dog Refuses to Eat from a Metal Bowl

Last Updated: December 10, 2023

As a dog owner, you want your furry companion to be healthy and happy, including ensuring they eat well. But have you noticed that your dog refuses to eat from a metal bowl? You might have tried different tricks and tips to get them to eat from it, but they still seem to prefer other bowls.

Possible reasons why your dog refuses to eat from a metal bowl could be reflections or noise from the bowl, allergic reaction, previous bad experience, discomfort due to the shape or size of the bowl, or simply preference for other materials.

This behavior can be frustrating and confusing, especially if you’ve always used a metal bowl for your dog’s food. In this article, we’ll explore 5 reasons why your dog refuses to eat from a metal bowl, so you can understand your pet’s behavior better and find a solution that works for both of you.

Dog Refusing to Eat from Metal Bowl

Why Won’t My Dog Eat Out Of His Metal Bowl?

So, you’ve just purchased your furry friend a nice new shiny metal bowl only to observe him refuse to eat from it, and you wonder what this canine behavior is all about. There are several reasons why your dog might be avoiding their metal bowl. Let’s dive into the top five reasons in more detail.

1. Reflections Or Glare Of The Metal Bowl

Some dogs can be pretty picky regarding their food bowl. As a dog owner, I’ve seen some dogs refuse to eat from a metal bowl because of reflections or glare that bounce off the shiny surface. It might not seem like a big deal to us, but for our four-legged pals, it can be distracting or even scary.

Some metal bowls can be particularly reflective, which means that any light or movement around them can create even more glare. This can be especially problematic if windows are casting light nearby or the bowl is in an area with a lot of foot traffic.

The jangling sound that some metal bowls make when they move can also be alarming for your pup. Also, if your dog’s metal tag jangles against the metal bowl as they bend down to eat, might be off-putting for them.

German Shepherd wearing Dog Tag
My dog’s metal tag will jangle against her bowl, which can be off-putting for some dogs.

If you’re dealing with a similar situation, it’s worth looking at the environment around the food bowl. Is there anything nearby that might be causing reflections or glare? Would moving the bowl to a quieter area help?

Sometimes, a small adjustment can make all the difference in getting your dog to feel more comfortable and confident during mealtime.

Watch This Dog Become Scared Of His Reflection In His Food Bowl…

2. Sensitivity To The Taste Or Smell Of A Metal Bowl

My brother once had a Border Collie who refused to eat from a metal bowl. He tried just about every type of food bowl under the sun to try and get his picky pup to eat.

One reason your dog refuses to eat from a metal bowl is their sensitivity to the taste or smell of the metal. It might sound a little weird, but dogs have some seriously discerning taste buds!

Some metal bowls can have a slightly metallic taste or odor, which can be enough to stop your dog from eating its food altogether. And who can blame them? I don’t think I’d be too keen on eating off a plate that tasted like a penny.

Plus, some dogs might have a more acute sense of smell than others, which means that even a subtle odor from a metal bowl can be off-putting.

If you’re dealing with a similar situation, try out different types of bowls to see if your dog responds better to another material. Ceramics, plastic, and glass are all good options to consider. And if you’re set on sticking with a metal bowl, thoroughly wash it before each use to eliminate lingering tastes or smells.

Dog Looking at His Metal Bowl and not eating.

3. Allergic Reaction To The Metal, Causing Discomfort Or Illness

I never realized that some dogs could have an allergic reaction to the metal in their food bowl. But it turns out that some dogs can be sensitive to certain metals, which can cause discomfort or even illness. So, if your dog is refusing to eat from a metal bowl, it might be worth considering whether they’re having an allergic reaction.

It seems that some dogs can be allergic to metals like nickel or stainless steel, which can be found in many metal bowls. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include itching, redness, or irritation around the mouth and nose, as well as vomiting or diarrhea.

It’s not a fun experience for anyone involved, so if you suspect your dog might be allergic to their bowl, it’s best to switch to a different material.

4. Previous Bad Experiences With A Metal Bowl, Such As Injury Or Discomfort

As a dog owner, I’ve come to realize that dogs have long memories. Many studies have shown that dogs remember by association.

Sometimes, those memories can make them hesitant to do things they’ve had bad experiences with in the past. This includes eating from a metal bowl.

If your dog is refusing to eat from a metal bowl, it’s possible that they’ve had a bad experience with one in the past. One sign of this behavior is that they’ll only eat if hand fed.

For example, maybe your dog accidentally got their tongue stuck in a metal bowl, or it had a bad spill and got hurt while eating. Or maybe they just found the bowl uncomfortable to eat from.

Whatever the case may be, it’s possible that your dog is associating metal bowls with negative experiences. 

If this is the case, it might take some time and patience to help your dog feel more comfortable with eating from a metal bowl again.

One thing to try is to gradually introduce the metal bowl back into your dog’s routine, starting with short feeding sessions and slowly increasing the amount of time they spend eating from the bowl.

5. Condition Of The Bowl, Such As Scratches Or Rust, Making It Unappetizing Or Unsanitary

Old Metal Dog Bowl

I know that dogs can be pretty particular about their food bowls. And who can blame them? Would you want to eat out of a dirty, scratched-up bowl?

If your dog refuses to eat from a metal bowl, the condition of the bowl may be the issue. Over time, metal bowls can become scratched, rusted, or otherwise damaged, making them unappetizing or unsanitary.

If your dog is turning their nose up at their metal bowl, take a closer look at the condition of the bowl itself. Are there any scratches or dings that might be putting your dog off? Does the bowl have any rust or other signs of wear and tear?

If so, it might be time to invest in a new bowl. Your dog will thank you for it, and you’ll feel better knowing they’re eating from a clean and hygienic bowl.

When feeding your furry friend, paying attention to the detail is important. Sometimes, something as simple as the condition of a food bowl can make a big difference in how our dogs perceive their meals. So, if your dog refuses to eat from their metal bowl, look closer and see if it’s time for an upgrade.


How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Sensitive To Metal?

A few signs may indicate your dog is sensitive to metal. These can include refusing to eat from a metal bowl, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, or skin irritation around the mouth or chin. If you suspect your dog may be sensitive to metal, it’s best to switch to a different bowl type and consult your vet for further advice.

Can A Dog Develop An Allergic Reaction To A Metal Bowl Over Time?

Yes, a dog can develop an allergic reaction to a metal bowl over time. This can be caused by repeated exposure to the metal, leading to a build-up of antibodies in the dog’s system. Signs of an allergic reaction may include itching, redness or rash, and swelling around the mouth or face.

How Often Should I Replace My Dog’s Metal Bowl?

The frequency with which you should replace your dog’s metal bowl depends on several factors, including how often it is used and how well it is cared for. Generally speaking, metal bowls can last for several years with proper care, but it’s important to watch for signs of wear and tear, such as scratches, dents, or rust.

If the bowl shows signs of damage, it’s best to replace it to ensure your dog’s safety and health. Additionally, if your dog shows discomfort or reluctance to eat from the bowl, it may be time for a replacement.

A Bulldog

What Are The Signs That A Metal Bowl Is Making My Dog Uncomfortable?

Signs that a metal bowl may be making your dog uncomfortable can include refusing to eat or drink from the bowl, strange dog eating behavior, such as pawing at or nudging the bowl, excessive drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Additionally, if your dog shows skin irritation or redness around the mouth or chin, this may be a sign of discomfort.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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