Penny the Beagle loves most things dogs love, but she also has a curious love of metal, a curiosity that almost cost her her life.
Penny’s human shared her experience in order to warn other pet parents of the dangers of zinc toxicity – in this case caused by pennies. After ingesting pennies, Penny became lethargic and ill. Fortunately, she was rushed to hospital in time and survived thanks to medical intervention that included fluids and a blood transfusion.
Penny’s mom wrote:
“Many dogs have an affinity to metal or eating foreign objects, but pennies are especially dangerous. My dog (who’s name is really Penny) ate 6 pennies and almost died because of the zinc it released into her body. She developed severe anemia, then required a 48 hour hospital stay and a blood transfusion. Small children are also at risk; coins are the most commonly ingested foreign object by children in the United States.”
While at the vet, they learned that Penny’s stomach acid had partially dissolved the coins. The pennies she ate were minted after 1982 and therefore contained 95% zinc with only a thin coating of copper. As she had not vomited them up, the zinc leaked into her bloodstream causing zinc poisoning. They rushed Penny to hospital after she started evincing several symptoms.
Symptoms of zinc toxicity can include:
- loss of appetite
- vomiting, nausea, diarrhea
- jaundice (yellowing of skin and whites of eyes)
- urine retention
- pale gums and tongue
- orange colored feces
- dark, brown or red-colored urine
Penny’s mom added that being aware of the symptoms and prompt medical intervention are key to survival.
“Most people do not know about the signs and symptoms of zinc toxicity, which is incredibly dangerous since it is very possible to not know that your pet or child has consumed an object unless they develop symptoms. If left untreated, zinc toxicity can cause multiple organ failure.”
Although Penny’s family took precautions to put coins and other metal objects out of her reach, she still managed to find some when they weren’t looking. After the incident, she now stops her from licking any kind of metal in order to curb her habit and are extra vigilant.
Penny’s mom was prompted to make a video of Penny’s story (see below) in order to help others. “Please watch and share with the dog owners and parents in your lives. You could save a life, she wrote.”