Zinc Pennies Can Be Toxic To Dogs

This is for all of us pet lovers! Just received this email health alert from the ASPCA and found it to be important enough to share! And, YIKES, who would have ever dreamt?


Dog Ingests Toxic Pennies and Survives

On September 29, when Keiver Guacane of Manhattan brought his five-month-old Cockapoo, Gordo, to ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, his beloved pup was in dire straits. The fuzzy, light-brown pooch was in critical condition, suffering from severe anemia and dangerously low blood pressure. ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Geruza Paiva examined Gordo, and immediately suspected the cause of the pup's distress. "She was worried he may have eaten coins because he had hemolytic anemia-anemia due to red blood cell rupture-which can be caused by zinc toxicity from eating pennies," says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA. "Dr. Paiva took an x-ray and saw the coins in his stomach.”

Pennies minted after 1982 contain a zinc core surrounded by copper and are the only U.S. coins in circulation that pose a toxicity hazard to pets. Unfortunately, these toxic, late-model pennies are commonly ingested by our furry friends. The stomach provides an exceptionally acidic environment and aids in the rapid distribution of zinc into the blood stream, which can cause life-threatening anemia and kidney failure.


Luckily, Gordo was in good hands. He immediately received a blood transfusion, and then ASPCA veterinarians passed an endoscope (fiber optic technology attached to a tiny camera) through the dog's mouth, down his esophagus and into the GI tract to locate the pennies and retrieve them with a long, grabbing instrument. The non-invasive procedure was a success, but the evidence was startling. The handful of retrieved coins included several gnarly, partially decomposed pennies and others that appeared almost new.

"If you look at the pennies we took out, the pure copper ones from before 1982 are perfect, intact and shiny," reports Dr. Murray. "The newer, zinc ones are all eaten away."

Of course, this interesting disparity in coin metals is probably of little consolation to mischievous little Gordo. His pet parent, too, was just relieved to see his furry friend recover well, and no doubt will forevermore watch what Gordo eats!


As always, if you suspect your pet has ingested pennies or any other toxic item, please contact your veterinarian immediately or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435.

By Deeli from Richland, WA

November 15, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you for this information.

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January 1, 20130 found this helpful

I no longer live in the US but my son does-I forwarded this to him as he has a dog and keeps coins in a dish where the dog can get to it.

Thank-you for the heads-up, Deeli, and Happy New Year!

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