Here’s a danger to your pet that you might not have known about: the humble penny.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pennies produced after 1982 contain zinc, which can be deadly if cats or dogs swallow them.
Colorado resident Maryann Goldstein is grieving the loss of her dog, Sierra. The West Highland white terrier died recently from zinc poisoning. Sierra’s life had been spared once before — she ate 32 cents when she was a puppy.
That time, doctors were able to surgically remove the coins before her body became too badly poisoned. But as the dog grew older, her love for coins never ended.
When Sierra became ill not too long ago, an X-ray taken by her veterinarian confirmed she had swallowed 2 more coins — a quarter and a penny.
The penny caused the biggest concern because gastric acid from a pet’s stomach can reach the zinc center of a penny quickly, according to Rebecca Jackson, a staff veterinarian at Petplan Insurance Company. The zinc disrupts the red blood cell production, ultimately destroying the cells if exposed too long.
Symptoms of zinc poisoning include:
- Diarrhea and/or vomiting
- Red-tinted urine
- Loss of appetite
Goldstein is sharing Sierra’s tragic story in hopes of getting the message out to other pet owners: Don’t let a penny take your pet’s life.
Keep your loose coins out of their reach. And in case you’re wondering, cats can be sickened by coins, too.