Are pennies poisonous to pets?

Zinc toxicity can be a life-threatening emergency. The most common source of zinc for pets is found in pennies. When the pennies are swallowed the stomach acid causes the dangerous zinc to dissolve and quickly enter the blood stream. 

Ingested pennies need to be removed ASAP! This is done either by causing the pet to vomit or taking the pet to surgery. Once the pennies are removed it will take about 48 hours for the zinc to be eliminated from the blood stream.

We had the worst zinc toxicity case that I have ever seen in my 20+ years of practice. A young dog requiring a lengthy surgery then developed severe anemia requiring an emergency transfusion. After a few days of worry and intensive care we were able to send our little patient home. Her full recovery will still take many more days as the organs begin to repair.

Interesting fact: pennies minted in 1983 and later are composed of 97.3% zinc. Also, ever wonder where money travels before making it to you? Actually, it’s probably better not to think about it :o)

Please be safe!

Dr. Deborah Kelloway
Pennies

 

Veterinary Ultrasound: A look inside to see what ails your pet

We can all see how beautiful your pet is on the outside :o) but when he or she is not feeling well, what do things look like on the inside? X-rays are great for bone and gas structures (like lung), but when it comes to soft tissue, nothing can beat the diagnostic superiority of ultrasound. Echo (sound) waves are used to penetrate water (which is what soft tissue mostly contains). These sound waves bounce off of the tissue and return to the operator’s probe. Depending on the type of tissue will determine how fast the sound waves return to the probe. The varying speed of echo wave return is what creates the various levels of gray and ultimately the image on the screen. Fascinating! And really useful.

We have been open in Concord for just a little over 1 week and each serious case that came through our doors experienced life-saving, valuable information based on ultrasound. Each required immediate surgery and are doing well.

Below are a few cases with photos:

A middle-aged hound dog was referred by his veterinarian for ultrasound out of concern for an abdominal mass. The pet had been vomiting for a few days and there was concern that cancer was the cause for the vomiting. However, after a thorough exam of the abdomen, the ultrasound demonstrated foreign material (likely a sock) within the upper part of the intestine. The pet was taken to surgery and a long section of very smelly fabric was removed!

The patient is being prepped for surgery.

The patient is being prepped for surgery.

A little dog presented for vomiting multiple times within a 12 hour period. Although looking pretty good in the exam room, 8-9 events of vomiting is a lot and the owner was very concerned. Ultrasound was pursued and it was immediately apparent that the gallbladder was leaking. The patient was taken to surgery and the leaking gallbladder was found to be barely attached at its base! Removal of the gallbladder proved to be life-saving.

This patient's gallbladder was causing pain and vomiting.

This patient’s gallbladder was causing pain and vomiting.

This morning, we were presented with a lovely middle-aged dog that had been vomiting and not feeling well for about 3 days. Although she did not have a fever (surprising) and no discharge from under her tail (even more surprising!), the abdominal ultrasound demonstrated an enormous uterus full of infection and ready to rupture. No time was wasted. She was treated for shock and whisked into the surgery suite. Take a look at this amazing structure — which weighed 7 pounds 14 ounces! (Cover your eyes if you are squeamish.)

This is pyometra, a very infected uterus. Ready to break open!

This is pyometra, a very infected uterus. Ready to break open!

 

Stay tuned if you find ultrasound interesting. We will post more interesting cases soon!

Porcupine Quills in Dogs

This is the season where we see dogs coming into the ER with porcupine quills. Some dogs will get a few quills in their muzzle and quickly retreat. However, many larger breed dogs will not be deterred by a few quills and continue to attack the porcupine. The end result … often hundreds of quills in the muzzle, mouth, front limbs, chest. If your dog has only a few quills, they can often be removed with pliers and a quick pull. However, anything more that 2-3 quills, will result in a very stressed pooch if the quills are pulled without sedation. If only a handful of quills are present, light sedation is all that is required. If there are many quills (>50) then most dogs will need to be anesthetized to allow a team of technicians and veterinarian to work diligently in locating and removing the quills.

It is not uncommon for 1-2 quills to remain. Either it is not noticed or it is simply too deep to be safely removed. These quills eventually migrate, usually to the surface where their owners may notice a sharp protrusion (generally days to weeks after the event) from the skin. If the pet allows and the quill is sufficiently exposed, then a quick, firm pull to remove the quill is often possible.

Quills are not easy to see by any other means other than the naked eye. Sophisticated diagnostics such as CT and MRI often do no allow visualization of quills. Occasionally dogs may have a quill protruding into the heart sac causing blood to build up around the heart. These quills can sometimes be seen with ultrasound.

Pet insurance is recommended for any pet, but accidental pet insurance is definitely a very good idea for any porcupine offender! Dogs do not learn their lesson after the event but rather seem to get even more worked up about porcupines with any future encounters.

Concord NH Emergency Veterinarian

24 Hour ER for Pets in Manchester NH

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