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How a single penny can kill your dog

Sierra, a West Highland terrier in Colorado, had 26 cents in her stomach.

But it was the single penny that killed her.

Owner Maryann Goldstein said Sierra was always attracted to change. As a puppy, the Westie swallowed 32 cents and had to have it surgically removed. In March, Sierra got sick again, and X-rays at the vet’s office showed a quarter and penny in her stomach.

The smaller coin was the bigger concern.

Pennies minted after 1982 contain zinc, and that’s toxic to dogs and cats, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a staff veterinarian at Petplan pet insurance, told CBSNews.com that newer pennies are toxic because gastric acid from the pet’s stomach reaches the zinc center, causing it to be absorbed in the body rapidly.

She said zinc interferes with red blood cell production, and the longer the exposure, the greater likelihood red blood cells will be destroyed. Symptoms of zinc toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, red-colored urine or looking jaundiced.

“Be sure to bank your spare change before curious pets can get their paws on it,” warned Jackson. “and if they do, get them to the emergency vet immediately.”

Goldstein, who now wears Sierra’s ashes in a heart-shaped container on a necklace, shared her dog’s story with CBS in Denver as a warning to others.


Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time April 25, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I feel it’s important to point out that they can do the same thing to your human baby or toddler. They can’t be relied on to pass through, and they can erode enough in the stomach to become toxic within a day or two. I kind of wish they would just do away with pennies.

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