What Are the Dangers of Pennies to Puppies & Dogs?

The smaller the dog the more dangerous the poisoning.
The smaller the dog the more dangerous the poisoning. (Image: Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Most puppies eat things they shouldn't, but some of the things they eat can be deadly. Lots of people don't realize how dangerous swallowing coins -- pennies in particular -- can be to dogs. If you think your dog has swallowed pennies, get it to the veterinarian right away so she can induce vomiting or begin other emergency treatment.

Toxicity of Pennies

Today's penny is made up of 25 percent zinc, which is extraordinarily toxic to dogs. Without aid, a penny may stay in the dog's digestive system and become more toxic. Zinc causes gastrointestinal irritation that makes digesting food difficult or impossible and kills blood cells, preventing oxygen from flowing properly through the body. Zinc from just one or two pennies can lead to liver and kidney failure in dogs.


Symptoms of zinc toxicity include listlessness, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and pale gums. The vet will perform diagnostic blood tests and X-rays to discover if your dog has eaten pennies and how bad the damage is. In severe cases where a high amount of zinc has been ingested seizures and comas can occur.

Eating grass is a sign of an upset stomach.
Eating grass is a sign of an upset stomach. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)


If pennies are lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, surgery may be necessary. If they're in the stomach, an endoscope may suffice. Veterinarians check for anemia since zinc toxicity causes blood disorders. If this is the case, intravenous fluids and a blood transfusion are given to replace the fluids and affected blood.

Prevention and Action

The obvious way to prevent this from happening is to make sure all change is kept in a place where your dog can't get to it. Take change out of your pocket immediately upon getting home and put it in the designated place. Keep all supplements, medications or anything else that might contain zinc up in a cabinet and out of reach.

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