Dog survives after eating 111 pennies

Normally it would be a good thing to find some coins hiding in the couch cushions. But for 13-year-old Jack, a Jack Russell Terrier from Manhattan, stumbling across his owner’s loose change stockpile was a life-threatening experience.

An X-ray of Jack’s stomach — the solid white mass is 111 pennies. (Photo credit: AP Photo/BluePearl Veterinary Partners)

On Friday, March 8, while his owner wasn’t looking, Jack jumped on top of a desk in his apartment to lick up some crumbs from a bagel. But while enjoying the tasty treat, the spunky pup managed to nose his way into a stash of pennies.

“He climbed on my desk to get at the bag with the bagel and knocked the change all over the floor,” explains Jack’s owner, Wall Street worker Tim Kelleher. “While he was licking up the crumbs, he swallowed the pennies.”

By the time his owner realized his dog wasn’t where he should be, Jack had secretly ingested 111 pennies.

Pennies might sound like nothing more than harmless currency, but when eaten they can cause zinc toxicosis in dogs. As the stomach acid breaks starts to break down the metal of the coin, zinc is released and absorbed into the small intestine. From there, the zinc moves into the bloodstream. After the toxic compound is ingested, high concentrations of zinc are usually found in the red blood cells, liver, and kidneys. If not treated immediately, zinc toxicosis can cause seizures, shock, multi-organ failure, or even death.

Kelleher realized something was very wrong when his dog’s diet suddenly changed. Jack, who usually gobbled up his meals, stopped wanting to eat. Soon after, Jack started vomiting, and Kelleher knew he had to rush Jack to the veterinarian’s office — quick.

Veterinarians at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Manhattan took an X-ray of Jack’s stomach and what they discovered was a veritable jackpot of danger — a pile of pennies was easy to spot on the X-ray film. The only thing left to do was rush Jack into surgery and remove the coins before they could do more damage to the little terrier’s system.

Veterinarians fished out the coins stashed in Jack’s stomach five at a time, according to the New York Daily News. In total, Jack’s emergency surgery lasted two long hours.

“He’s like a voracious Tasmanian devil,” says Kelleher. “If there’s food, he’s got to get it.”

Jack is recovering nicely after his surgery, but his veterinarians are quick to point out that Jack’s story might not have had a happy ending if his worried owner hadn’t sought treatment as soon as he did.

“If Jack would not have had the pennies removed the consequences would have been fatal,” says Dr. Amy Zalcman.

What happened to the $1.11 extracted from Jack’s stomach? Kelleher let Dr. Zalcman keep it.

Source: New York Daily News