Zinc Poisoning in Dogs: Count Your Change—Penny’s Story

If you suspect your dog ingested a metal piece or coin that could contain zinc, seek veterinary help immediately.

As zinc enters the digestive system, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. But that is not what is the worst concern. Once it gets absorbed into the bloodstream, it leads to the destruction of red blood cells, liver damage, kidney failure, and heart failure

The ingestion of just one zinc penny can be fatal.

Source: Pet Poison Helpline

Thank you, Shay Marie, for sharing Penny’s story.

Zinc Poisoning in Dogs: Count Your Change—Penny's Story

Penny’s story

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.

Penny’s sick

Penny's Zinc Poisoning

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 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 from your dog.

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


Original story:
Zinc Toxicity – Penny Ate a Penny

Further reading:
Zinc Toxicity in Dogs: What Happens In The Dog’s Body With Zinc Toxicity?

Categories: ConditionsDog toxinsReal-life StoriesZinc poisoning

Tags: :

Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

Share your thoughts