There are countless reasons for why people enjoy wearing jewelry - as a form of self-expression, due to emotional attachment, as a sign of social status or simply because it is beautiful. However, even though it much less common for dogs to like jewelry some owners find their canine companions mesmerized by the sparkly strings they see dangling around peoples’ necks. It is unlikely that dogs see necklaces as dainty versions of their collars or make that connection, but why are some dogs fascinated by them? Or worse, why do some dogs chew on jewelry or try to bury it?
The Root of the Behavior
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any research or studies conducted to find out why some dogs like jewelry, as the occurrence, is relatively rare. However, the behavior does seem to be more common among cats who like all things stringy or anything that resembles yarn, which could provide some insight into the behavior. Cats have the exceptional ability of capture peripheral motion, meaning something like yarn or any sort of rope in twisting motion instantly catches their attention. This keyed to motion vision is an evolved trait that enabled wild cats to spot, kill or scare away snakes who could not only pose a direct danger to the cats but also hunted smaller prey and endangered the food supply within a given territory. In addition, both cats and dogs can see far ahead and rely more on motion than focus when it comes to scoping for prey. It is, therefore, possible that jewelry such as necklaces or earrings catch our furry buddy's attention because they dangle and sparkle, especially when you bend over to pet your dog. Another possibility why your dog likes jewelry is simply because dogs are curious creatures and a silver ring or a bracelet looks and might even smell different than other things. While looking is obviously completely harmless, if your dog tries to chew on your jewelry or even eat it that could be a cause for worry. Rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings are all very small accessories and therefore also unfortunately bite-sized. Regardless of breed, a curious dog, especially a puppy can easily go from chewing to choking or accidentally swallowing jewelry. Not only is that dangerous because of the sharp edges, even more so with earrings due to their studs, which can cause bowel obstruction or even perforation but ingesting metal jewelry could also lead to zinc poisoning. Symptoms of zinc poisoning range from lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting and pale gums to orange-toned feces and dark urine. If your dog has ingested anything such as jewelry, pennies, screws or batteries it is crucial for him to be taken to the veterinarian for treatment immediately to avoid possible complications.
Encouraging the Behavior
Though admiration from the distance is not harmful, you should not encourage your dog's interest in jewelry, as curiosity often leads to chewing. Don’t play with your dog using any jewelry and make sure it is never easily reachable for your dog. If you notice that your dog not only wants to bite on your bracelets but also starts chewing on other non-edible objects, it is best to take him to the veterinarian for diagnosis as he might have developed a psychological abnormality called Pica. The appetite for non-nutritive substances can cause your dog to eat anything from paper, soil and chalk to glass or metal. In addition to diagnosis, your dog should be watched very closely and should not be left alone unless completely restricted from such substances or objects. If your dog is specifically targeting metal objects, he might be iron deficient. A veterinarian will need to run blood work to determine if your dog's diet should be altered or if your dog needs to be taking supplements. Either way, in both cases it is very important for the veterinarian to diagnose the dog first in order to be able to prepare an appropriate treatment plan. To prevent your dog from accidentally choking or swallowing small objects such as rings or bracelets, make sure to make them unreachable and instead provide him with lots of dogs toys to choose from.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Your dog might be chewing on jewelry to alleviate itchy gums. Due to the aforementioned dangers of licking, biting or swallowing jewelry the behavior should not be allowed. If you notice it, immediately remove the jewelry and replace it with a suitable chewable dog toy that is designed specifically for gum irritation relief. Your dog might also enjoy licking jewelry as a form of a new sensory experience. Due to its texture licking a necklace most likely doesn’t seem like anything else and your dog, especially while young, might be experimenting with different textures and flavors. Again, due to the health hazards, it is important to provide your dog with safe alternatives to avoid potential health risks or surgery - and costs associated with it.