Hidden Dangers: What Could Happen if Your Pet Ate Coins

As a pet parent, you try to do everything you can to keep your pets safe, and this includes pet-proofing your home so your pet will not eat anything dangerous. Today, we wanted to show you one of the most common home substances that can be toxic to your pet, but that you might not even know about: Coins.

The Dangers of Pets Eating Money

If your dog chewed on dollar bills, it would be your loss – and you very well might get upset. If your pet ate small change that fell in between the sofa cushions or dropped on the floor, you might not even notice it happened. Yet, this very act could threaten or take your pet’s life. Your pet could ingest dimes, nickels, and quarters – but if he or she happened to eat a penny, zinc poisoning could occur.

While most cases involve dogs and cats eating pennies, large birds can also suffer from eating pennies. Fish can be impacted if small change falls into the tank and dissolves in the water.

A Veterinarian Perspective

A veterinarian will tell you, pennies minted after 1982 contain a zinc core with a copper exterior. As the zinc sets in your pet’s stomach, it can cause hemolysis or destruction of blood cells. In the short term this causes anemia. However, if the pennies are not passed or surgically removed, your pet can die from zinc toxicity.

We presented a case study on a Boston terrier, Wall-E, who came to us after a period of vomiting, diarrhea, and pack of appetite for 5-6 days. He was dehydrated. A physical exam revealed a penny in his rectum. We took an x-ray to determine whether there was anything else that Wall-E ingested and found $3.85 worth of small change in his stomach. However, it was only the one penny that threatened Wall-E’s life.

If you have any questions about the information we presented here, or about anything else, please contact our veterinary staff at 909-980-3575. We would be glad to help.