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Dog’s dangerous Thanksgiving feast: $1.18 in coins

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Maybe Lucky was just warming up for the Thanksgiving feast when he gobbled up $1.18 in change.

The meal could have been deadly. But thanks to the quick thinking of his owner and doctors at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Southfield, the 2-year-old American Eskimo Dog is expected to make a full recovery.

Terri Luxmore, Lucky’s owner, said she noticed Monday that her pup “just didn’t feel well. He was just down in the dumps, not being his usual self.”  On Tuesday morning the normally spirited and inquisitive pup didn’t want to walk. Then Luxmore saw blood-colored urine. She immediately took Lucky to his primary veterinarian.

“I was there waiting when they opened up at 8 a.m.,” she said.

Luxmore said the veterinarian ran bloodwork, which showed his liver was starting to fail. The vet referred her to specialists at BluePearl.

Lucky was lethargic and his urine was extremely dark—the color of port wine, according to Dr. Brian Young, who is board-certified in internal medicine and emergency and critical care.

“We checked his gums and they were extremely pale,” he said. “That’s a sign of anemia.”

Luxmore said Dr. Young told her he thought her pet could have eaten some pennies.

Bingo. An X-ray showed Lucky had swallowed nine coins, for a total of $1.18, plus a rubber band. Lucky had devoured four quarters, three pennies, a nickel and a dime.

While any coin is dangerous to ingest, the pennies were most worrisome to the doctors at BluePearl. Pennies minted after 1982 are not pure copper, but rather zinc with a copper plating.

“Zinc is extremely toxic, to both dogs and children” said Dr. Jessica Romine, an internal medicine resident at BluePearl. ” The stomach acid erodes the copper plating, allowing the zinc to be absorbed into the body. Once in the circulation, it damages the membranes of red blood cells, causing them to break open.”

Romine used an endoscope to remove the coins and the rubber band from Lucky’s stomach Tuesday evening.  Lucky also received two blood transfusions to counteract the zinc toxicity. Lucky is expected to make a full recovery and may be released from the BluePearl hospital Wednesday afternoon.

Luxmore said the family is rearranging Thansgiving dinner plans to make sure someone can stay with Lucky all the time. “I love that dog,” she said. “That’s my baby.”