Farmers routinely use galvanized buckets and watering troughs for horses and livestock, so the use of these containers for dogs is considered safe. Ensure that the metal remains intact and does not get damaged, however, as this impairs the zinc coating and may release harmful toxins.
Galvanization is the application of a zinc coating to metal. The coating is added by electroplating the metal using a galvanic cell or by a process known as hot-dip zinc coating. Hot-dip zinc coating is more commonly used on inexpensive items such as buckets and produces a thick, durable coating. The zinc surface prevents corrosion of the metal and lengthens the useful life of the product.
Toxicity of Galvanized Metal
Zinc galvanizing tends to give off toxic fumes when it is heated. If you heat galvanized steel, a toxic gas is created called zinc oxide. People who work regularly with heated zinc sometimes get metal fume fever, which causes what is known as the “zinc shakes.” It is not a fatal condition and wears off in a few days. As dog watering buckets are not usually heated in any way, there is no risk of toxicity from fumes.
Food Preparation and Storage
When acidic foods are stored in galvanized utensils or when food is cooked in galvanized containers, toxic amounts of zinc sometimes enter the food. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1997 Food Code, “galvanized metal may not be used for utensils or food-contact surfaces of equipment that are used in contact with acidic food.” This is generally understood to mean that the use of galvanized metal in contact with meat and non-acidic fruits and vegetables is acceptable, but because preservatives in certain foods may also interact with zinc, galvanized metal is usually not used for any kind of food. The use of galvanized containers for watering dogs does not apply.
Common Uses of Galvanized Products
Galvanized buckets and livestock watering troughs are inexpensive, resist corrosion and are readily available in feed and pet supply stores. These products are a safe way to provide water to your dog, provided the buckets are in good condition and are used only for cold water.