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Dog Dies After Eating Penny, Pennies Minted Before 1982 Contain Zinc

5:42 PM, Apr 23, 2013   |    comments
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Colorado-- A Dog is dead after eating a penny and it's not just any penny that killed the dog, the dog's veterinarian said.

That's because pennies minted after 1982 contain zinc, which is a toxic substance to pets such as dogs and cats, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"I used to call her my walking heart on four legs; just one of the nicest dogs," Maryann Goldstein , the owner of the deceased West Highland White terrier named Sierra, said to CBS Denver, which reported the case.

Goldstein said Sierra was always attracted to change, and remembered her Westie swallowing 32 cents worth of a change as a puppy, requiring surgery.

However this March, the dog got very sick and had to go to the veterinarian. An X-ray revealed a quarter and penny in her stomach. The penny presented the biggest risk because it contained zinc.

Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a staff veterinarian at Petplan pet insurance, told CBSNews.com in an email that these newer pennies are so toxic because gastric acid from the pet's stomach can reach the zinc center of the penny quickly, causing it to be absorbed in the body rapidly.

She said zinc interferes with red blood cell production, and the longer the exposure, the greater likelihood red blood cells will be destroyed. Symptoms of zinc toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, red-colored urine or looking jaundiced.

"I just couldn't believe it, and this time she wasn't so lucky," said Goldstein.

Goldstein wears her dog's ashes in a heart-shaped container on a necklace, and shares Sierra's story to warn others that a penny could be so costly.

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