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Zinc toxosis in dogs (danger from dog swallowing pennies)


Zinc is toxic to dogs.  It can make them very sick and it can kill them.  Zinc can be found in many common every day items, including pennies, batteries, automotive parts, paints, herbal supplements, screws and nuts on pet carriers, metal board game pieces, nuts, bolts, staples, zippers, jewelry, galvanized metal and zinc containing ointments.  Puppies and young dogs are more prone to ingesting these items than are adult dogs. 

Pennies minted after 1982 are the most common cause of zinc toxosis in dogs.  "Some pennies minted during 1983, and all pennies minted since, are 97.5% zinc by weight."  (Merck Veterinary Manual)

--- Quote ---It is common for pets, especially dogs, to ingest coins. Among the circulating U.S. coins, only pennies
pose a toxicity hazard. Pennies minted after 1982 contain a zinc core surrounded by copper plating. Each
penny contains about 2,440 mg of elemental zinc. Subacute or chronic zinc toxicosis can affect the renal,
hepatic, gastrointestinal, and hematopoietic tissues. Zinc toxicosis can cause hemolytic anemia, which
can lead to hemoglobinemia and hemogloburinia. Because of these severe effects, consider all penny
ingestions potentially dangerous, and treat each case aggressively.

--- End quote ---

Clinical signs vary based on the duration and degree of exposure. Signs progress from anorexia and vomiting to more advanced symptoms such as diarrhea, lethargy, icterus, shock, intravascular hemolysis, hemoglobinuria, cardiac arrhythmias, and seizures. Large animals often show decreases in weight gain and milk production, and lameness has been reported in foals secondary to epiphyseal swelling.

Symptoms may include:
loss of appetite
pale gums
increased urine production
excessive thirst and drinking
jaundice (yellowing of skin or the whites of the eyes)
red urine
abdominal pain

If you see your dog ingest a penny it may be possible to retrieve the penny before any harm is done by inducing vomiting.  Discuss with your vet how to do this safely at home.  Make note of his instructions and keep them in a handy place with other emergency vet instructions.  If it is uncertain whether a penny has been ingested, an x-ray can determine whether coins are present.

Do not allow your dog to pick up pennies, not in play, and not on command.  As few as 1-3 pennies can result in toxosis in dogs.  No penny is worth it.

Additional reading:

Some fireworks also contain large amounts of zinc. Logan chewed on a firework shortly after I got him but fortunately he didn't eat enough to cause a problem.

There are also some pennies from the WWII era that are zinc - durring the war years copper was something that was needed for war manufacturing.

 :trx: Yea I have a WHOLE bag of 100  zinc steelie pennies from the WWII era.
If you leave a current penny outside in the weather the copper veneer will erode off and it will look a lot like the WWII steelies. :paw:

Can we make this a sticky?


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