Ask Seth: Dog Swallows Penny

I think my Chihuahua swallowed a penny a day or two ago. Now she is lethargic and has blood in her urine. Do you think these are connected?

Get your dog to the vet NOW! Pennies can be deadly and I will explain how.


Most people believe that pennies are made of copper, but they are actually 97% zinc and roughly 3% copper.  Zinc poisoning results in the breakdown of the red blood cells (RBC) which causes the animal to become severely anemic. The red urine is a sign that this breakdown is occurring.  When RBC's burst, this puts excess hemoglobin into the blood that the kidney filters out, making the urine become red in color.  If this process continues, the animal will become anemic, lethargic and critically ill. Your veterinarian will do bloodwork to determine how anemic your dog is and determine if it is necessary for her to get receive a blood transfusion to get her RBC’s back to a higher, safe level. The veterinarian may also take an x-ray to determine if the penny is still inside your dog, as well as its location to decide what intervention will be necessary to help it pass through her bowel safely. Your dog should begin to recover once the penny is removed as long as other organs were not affected. Immediate veterinary assessment and prompt treatment will give your dog the best chance of getting through this dangerous period. Although this is more dangerous in small dogs, it is still a serious situation for larger dogs too.

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