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Are galvanized steel tub and dish okay for my dogs to drink from?


Q. A discussion came during a conversation with some friends on whether or not our new dog should be drinking out of a galvanized water dish my husband brought home from work. He works with galvanized steel products. Can this harm our dog?

Billi Acrie
animals - Las Vegas , Nevada, USA


A. Hi Bill. Are you sure that what you are calling a "galvanized water dish" actually is one? If so, it's probably okay since galvanized feed troughs and watering troughs have been used on farms on decades, and dogs are mammals. If you're not sure exactly what it is, it's generally a bad idea to use things for food or water service that weren't designed for it. Some galvanized metal gets a post treatment with hexavalent chromium, which would be bad to ingest, and if it were cadmium plated rather than galvanized, that's a toxin.

Ted Mooney   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 21, 2008

Q. I have three dogs and I use a galvanized steel wash tub as their water bowl. I purchased it from the Home Depot. I have noticed changes in my dogs and this is the only thing in their environment that has changed. Any information would be great. Thank you in advance for your time.

Chablis Cummings
house wife - Boise, Idaho, USA

October 29, 2008

Hi, Chablis. It may be the only thing in their environment that you can think of that has changed, but that doesn't mean it is the only thing that has changed :-) Although galvanized is not considered a food-safe surface because of potential overdose from acidic foods dissolving it, galvanized watering troughs and feeders have been very widely used by farm animals around the world for many decades.


Ted Mooney,   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 1, 2008

For many decades many countries have used galvanized steel roofing material to catch rain water for drinking, and in many places storing that water in galvanized steel water tanks.
No adverse effects have been reported nor have restrictions on these materials been introduced.

Geoff Crowley Geoff Crowley
galvanizing &
   powder coating shop
Glasgow, Scotland

March 16, 2010

Q. I purchased a dog pan that was galvanized steel. After two days the pan turned black, so now I have black puppy pawprints all over my carpet! Why did this happen? The company I purchased it from referred me to you.

Julie Mercer
Buyer - Waverly, Ohio, USA

March 17, 2010

A. They referred you to us? What on earth did we have to do with it? :-)

I don't know exactly what a "dog pan" is. A drinking pan? Galvanizing can turn black from alkaline materials like dishwasher detergent. If you washed it in a dishwasher, that could be the problem. Scrubbing it with diluted vinegar and rubbing off any smut with a cloth or paper towel ought to help a lot. If you have a trained puppy and you're speaking of a litter box, galvanizing will prove entirely unsuitable. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 19, 2010

A. Normally I would say you have the heat set too high and you are burning the pan but if the dog is still walking around you must not be cooking dogs. I have no idea what a "dog pan" is! I guess logically something must be reacting to the zinc that the pan is coated with. Food, water, dog or otherwise. Short of stopping contact with the above or contact with any other things that may be turning it black, I think the simple answer is to purchase a stainless steel or plastic dog pan! I suppose a pet shop, kennel supply or farm supply would be good places to start. Depending on the size, some sort of stainless kitchen pan would probably be cheaper. By sending you to us the people that sold it to you are obviously just trying to get rid of you. Personally I don't think I would give them any more of your money. I think if I had sold you said Dog pan, I would be replacing it for you with something different that actually did what it was supposed to do. As long as you are using your Dog pan, as a dog pan and not for a purpose other than what it was designed for.

Rod Henrickson
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dog is eating galvanized fence

June 28, 2013

Q. I have a question about "galvanized fencing" for a dog: is the fencing harmful to a dog that chews through the fence not once but 3 times -- and can that galvanization on the fencing cause cancer to a dog if ingested? Thank you.

Charise Hyde
- Chatt, Tennessee, USA

June 30, 2013

A. Hi Charise. I don't think you are viewing the situation quite correctly...

Please consider, for example, that glass is probably the least toxic construction material in the history of the world, but you certainly wouldn't consider it safe for your dog to swallow glass shards. Galvanizing is essentially a zinc coating, and zinc is not a toxin. But what your dog is doing, possibly ingesting sharp bits of metal, is life threatening to him. Not to mention that if I had children playing on the other side of the fence, on the third occasion I might have demanded that the police shoot him :-)


Ted Mooney,   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 30, 2013

A. Hose the fence with bitter apple or a good extreme hot-sauce. Worked great for getting my dogs to quit chewing on things.

Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Boone, North Carolina, USA

July 1, 2013

A. Zinc is actually an essential trace mineral, BUT the amount of it in the body is in an extremely small range. Too much is as bad or worse than too little. Fortunately, the bodies uptake of it is quite poor or people taking an excess of the zinc tabs for cold mitigation would be dead.

Galvanizing can be very adherent, so I suspect that the dog is tearing the fence up rather than eating it.

The invisible fence that shocks the dog might be an option, especially if you do not want the dog to injure himself.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

The Merck Veterinary Manual:

Overview of Zinc Toxicosis

March 17, 2015

A. Zinc absolutely IS a toxin to dogs. While there are inherent hazards in ingesting sharp bits of anything, the zinc present in galvanized steel can absolutely be toxic. Zinc toxicosis is characterized by a Heinz body anemia (i.e., red blood cell destruction due to oxidative damage), which can necessitate blood product transfusion. So, if a galvanized item, such as a screw or nut, is ingested by a dog, it much be retrieved either endoscopically or surgically to prevent complications that may include death.

I do not know if there are any data regarding drinking from galvanized containers, but I personally would not use them for the aforementioned reasons.

I and other veterinarians cannot stress enough that any questions regarding the health of your pets need to be referred to your veterinarian, not unregulated internet forums.

Jonathan Gagnon
- Saco, Maine, USA

March 2015

thumbsup2Thanks Dr. Gagnon. You're right, of course, that information from professionals beats the internet every time! I completely trust you that too much zinc ingestion is dangerous to a dog; metal finishers certainly don't challenge veterinarians on such subjects.

In our meager defense, the problem is probably just the word "toxin". We metal finishers were trumped by the politicians who made the well-remembered legal point that: " 'Toxic' is a matter of statute, not opinion."

To us, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, and mercury are toxins -- things where any at all is too much; that's why we wanted to make sure Billi's water dish was not made of cadmium, nor treated with hexavalent chrome. Metal finishers don't call micronutrient metals like trivalent chromium, iron and zinc "toxins" for reasons that are important to us ... but as you make clear, they certainly can be toxic if ingested in excess :-)

So once again, thanks for the reminder to ask a vet, not a metal finisher, what's good or bad for your dog!


Ted Mooney,   Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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