Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Count Your Change: Penny's Zinc Poisoning

by Shay Marie

Penny is a 2 year old beagle/cattle dog rescue dog. She's a total sweetheart, and like most dogs, she has some quirky habits. One of them is her obsession with metal things. Zippers, cabinet knobs, jewelry, coins ... you name it.

Just before this past New Years, without our knowledge, Penny ate about 86 cents in change.

We found out when she threw it up about 12 hours later. We always thought the biggest danger with her coin obsession was the risk of it getting stuck in her intestines. What we didn't realize was the serious damage that pennies can cause to the body even before they can make their way to the intestines.

We thought that once Penny threw the change up, she'd be feeling better.

However, the next morning, Penny was still sick. 

She was lethargic, wouldn't eat or drink. Then her urine was the color of blood.

We rushed her her to the pet hospital to learn that Penny was suffering from acute zinc toxicity.

Penny's stomach acid removed the copper coating, allowing the zinc leach out at toxic levels. And because it took more than 12 hours before she threw them up, Penny was in big trouble.

Pennies are very, very toxic when ingested and are especially dangerous for smaller dogs (Penny is 20 lbs), babies, and toddlers. 

Had we not brought Penny to the pet hospital, she could have died from multiple organ failure!

Penny spent over 48 hours at the hospital. She required intensive care. She even required a blood transfusion!

It took about a week for Penny to return to her normal self.

We realize that we were very lucky. We never really knew how much trouble Penny's coin obsession could cause.

Some of the signs of zinc poisoning:
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • lack of appetite
  • lethargy
  • depression
  • pale gums
  • jaundice
  • orange stool
  • brown or red urine
Count your change and keep it away form your dog.

Btw, it's not just pennies. Other objects, such as nuts and bolds, nails, zippers, jewelry, even some lozenges and lotions contain enough zinc to make your dog sick.


Full article:
Zinc Toxicity - Penny Ate a Penny

Further reading:
Zinc Poisoning in Dogs
Zinc Toxicosis


  1. Thank you for telling Penny's story. This is important information for all dog people. She is absolutely adorable.

  2. Oh my! Glad Penny is ok now. Poor lil gal. Thanks for the info. Definitely passing this one around!

    1. I am really glad too knowing that penny's better now.