Can a dog pass a penny when ingest it? We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff.’ But when Fido swallows a penny, is it small stuff that can be ignored or something more serious? If you’ve ever wondered whether dogs can pass pennies they swallow, you’ve come to the right place.

The short answer is this: In most cases, yes, dogs can pass pennies without problems. A penny is small enough to easily move through a dog’s digestive tract. But pennies can cause issues in some cases, especially if a dog swallows multiple pennies over time.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll look at everything you need to know about dogs and pennies. We’ll cover:

An Overview of Penny Dimensions

Penny coins
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Penny size

Pennies, also known as one-cent coins, have a standardized size in most countries. In the United States, for example, a penny has a diameter of 0.75 inches (19.05 mm) and a thickness of 0.0598 inches (1.52 mm).

The size of a penny may vary slightly in different countries, but it generally remains similar in terms of diameter and thickness.

Penny weight

When it comes to the weight of a penny, it is essential to note that the weight can vary depending on the country and the specific composition of the coin. In the United States, a penny weighs approximately 2.5 grams (0.088 ounces).

However, it is worth mentioning that the weight of pennies has changed over time due to modifications in their composition. For example, older pennies made primarily of copper may weigh slightly more than newer ones that contain a higher percentage of zinc.

For more detailed information on penny dimensions, you can refer to the official website of the United States Mint, which provides comprehensive information about U.S. coins, including their specifications and history.

Understanding the dimensions of a penny is crucial when considering the potential risks associated with dogs swallowing them. The size and weight of a penny play a significant role in determining whether a dog can pass it safely through its digestive system.

Canine Digestive System Basics

A dog’s digestive system is a complex network of organs that work together to break down food and absorb nutrients. Understanding how this system functions can help pet owners better care for their furry friends.

Mouth and Esophagus

The digestive process begins in a dog’s mouth. When a dog eats, their teeth and saliva help to break down the food into smaller pieces. The saliva also contains enzymes that start the chemical breakdown of carbohydrates.

Once the food is chewed and lubricated with saliva, it travels down the esophagus and into the stomach.


The stomach is responsible for further breaking down the food through the use of stomach acids and enzymes. These acids help to kill any bacteria that may be present in the food. The stomach also contracts and churns the food, further breaking it down into smaller particles.

This mixture of food, acid, and enzymes is known as chyme.

Small Intestine

After leaving the stomach, chyme enters the small intestine. This is where the majority of nutrient absorption takes place. The walls of the small intestine are lined with tiny finger-like projections called villi, which increase the surface area available for nutrient absorption.

The nutrients are then transported into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body.

Large Intestine

The large intestine, or colon, is responsible for absorbing water and electrolytes from the remaining undigested food. It also houses beneficial bacteria that help with the final breakdown of any remaining nutrients.

Any waste products that are not absorbed by the body are formed into feces and expelled through the rectum.

It is important for dog owners to be aware of their pet’s digestive system and provide them with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. If you have any concerns about your dog’s digestion, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian.

Will a Penny Harm My Dog if Swallowed?

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Many dog owners may wonder if a penny can harm their furry friend if swallowed. While dogs are known for their curious nature and tendency to put things in their mouth, swallowing a penny does pose some potential risks.

Pennies are small enough to pass through

Fortunately, the size of a penny is small enough that it can typically pass through a dog’s digestive system without causing any major issues. The gastrointestinal tract of dogs is designed to handle and process a variety of objects that they may ingest.

However, it is important to note that there are certain factors that can influence whether or not a swallowed penny will cause harm.

Pennies can cause minor irritation

While pennies may pass through a dog’s digestive system, they can still cause some irritation along the way. The zinc and copper content in pennies can react with the stomach acid, potentially leading to stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Additionally, the edges of a penny can be sharp and may cause minor abrasions as it travels through the digestive tract.

Swallowing multiple pennies is a concern

If a dog swallows multiple pennies, it can be a cause for concern. Ingesting a large number of pennies can lead to a condition called zinc toxicity. The zinc in the pennies can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause damage to the red blood cells, leading to anemia and other serious health issues.

If you suspect that your dog has swallowed multiple pennies, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately.

Pennies aren’t nutritious or digestible

One important thing to note is that pennies are not nutritious or digestible for dogs. While they may not cause immediate harm, ingesting non-food items can increase the risk of gastrointestinal blockages or obstructions.

If you notice any signs of discomfort, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or abdominal pain, it is essential to consult a veterinarian.

It is always best to prevent your dog from ingesting foreign objects, including pennies, to avoid any potential risks. Keep an eye on your dog’s surroundings, especially in areas where small objects like coins may be present.

If you have any concerns or suspect that your dog has swallowed a penny or any other non-food item, it is important to consult with your veterinarian for proper guidance and treatment.

Signs of Penny Ingestion in Dogs

Can A Dog Pass A Penny
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One of the most common signs that a dog has ingested a penny is vomiting. When a dog swallows a penny, it can cause irritation in their stomach, leading to bouts of vomiting. If you notice your dog vomiting and suspect they may have ingested a penny, it is important to monitor their condition closely and seek veterinary attention if the vomiting persists or worsens.

Loss of appetite

Another sign of penny ingestion in dogs is a loss of appetite. When a foreign object like a penny is present in a dog’s stomach, it can cause discomfort and make them lose interest in their food. If your dog suddenly refuses to eat or shows a decreased appetite, it could be a red flag that they have swallowed a penny.


Lethargy is a common symptom in dogs that have ingested a penny. The presence of a foreign object in their digestive system can cause discomfort and pain, leading to a lack of energy and overall sluggishness.

If your dog seems unusually tired or lethargic, it is important to consider the possibility of penny ingestion and consult with a veterinarian.

Straining to defecate

If a dog has swallowed a penny, it may cause a blockage or partial obstruction in their digestive tract, leading to difficulty in passing stool. You may notice your dog straining to defecate or experiencing constipation.

This can be a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention to prevent further complications.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested a penny or any other foreign object, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. The veterinarian will be able to perform a thorough examination and determine the best course of action to ensure your dog’s health and well-being.

When to See the Vet About a Swallowed Penny

While it may seem like a harmless occurrence, swallowing a penny can actually be quite dangerous for dogs. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to know when to seek veterinary attention if you suspect your furry friend has ingested a penny. Here are some key signs and symptoms to watch out for:

Repeated vomiting

If your dog has swallowed a penny and is experiencing repeated episodes of vomiting, it’s crucial to contact your vet immediately. Vomiting can be a sign that the penny has become lodged in the digestive tract, causing an obstruction. This can lead to severe complications if left untreated.

Signs of gastrointestinal obstruction

In addition to vomiting, there are other signs of gastrointestinal obstruction that may indicate the presence of a swallowed penny. These can include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, lethargy, and a change in bowel movements.

If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Multiple pennies ingested

If your dog has swallowed multiple pennies, it’s important to take immediate action. Multiple pennies can increase the risk of an obstruction occurring, as well as expose your dog to higher levels of toxic metals found in the coins. Contact your vet right away for guidance on how to proceed.

Remember, the health and safety of your pet should always be your top priority. It’s better to err on the side of caution and consult with a veterinary professional if you have any concerns about your dog swallowing a penny.

They can provide the necessary guidance and treatment to ensure your furry friend stays happy and healthy.

Diagnosing Penny Ingestion

When a dog has potentially ingested a penny, it is important to diagnose the situation accurately in order to provide the appropriate treatment. There are several diagnostic methods that veterinarians use to confirm if a dog has indeed swallowed a penny.

Physical exam

The first step in diagnosing penny ingestion involves a thorough physical examination of the dog. The veterinarian will carefully feel the dog’s abdomen for any abnormalities or signs of discomfort. They may also check the dog’s mouth to see if there are any traces of a penny or any other foreign objects.

Abdominal x-rays

Abdominal X ray
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Abdominal x-rays are a valuable tool in diagnosing penny ingestion in dogs. X-rays can detect the presence of a penny in the digestive tract. The radiographic image will show the location of the penny, its size, and if it has moved through the digestive system.

This information helps veterinarians determine the most appropriate course of action.


In some cases, an endoscopy may be recommended to confirm the presence of a penny in a dog’s digestive tract. This procedure involves using a flexible tube with a camera on the end, called an endoscope, to visually inspect the esophagus, stomach, and intestines.

If a penny is found, the veterinarian may be able to retrieve it using specialized tools during the same procedure.

It’s important to note that these diagnostic methods should only be performed by a trained veterinarian. Attempting to diagnose or treat penny ingestion at home without professional guidance can be dangerous and may cause harm to the dog.

Treating Dogs Who Swallow Pennies


If you suspect that your dog has swallowed a penny, it is important to closely observe their behavior. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, or abdominal pain. In some cases, the penny may pass through the digestive system without causing any harm.

However, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

Laxatives or enemas

In certain cases, a veterinarian may recommend using laxatives or enemas to help the dog pass the penny naturally. Laxatives can help to soften the stool and promote bowel movements, increasing the chances of the penny being eliminated from the body.

Enemas, on the other hand, involve introducing a liquid into the rectum to stimulate bowel movements. These methods can be effective for small and non-toxic objects like pennies.

Endoscopic removal

If the penny does not pass through the dog’s digestive system naturally or if it poses a risk of obstruction, endoscopic removal may be necessary. This procedure involves using a flexible tube with a camera attached (endoscope) to locate and remove the penny from the stomach or intestines.

Endoscopic removal is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed under anesthesia.


In rare cases where the penny cannot be removed through other methods or if it has caused severe damage, surgery may be required. During the surgery, the veterinarian will make an incision in the abdomen to access the stomach or intestines.

The penny will then be carefully removed, and any necessary repairs or treatments will be performed. Surgery is generally considered a last resort and is only done when absolutely necessary.

It is crucial to remember that swallowing a penny can be a serious situation for dogs. If you suspect that your dog has ingested a penny or any other foreign object, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

Delaying treatment can lead to complications such as gastrointestinal blockages or perforations, which can be life-threatening. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so make sure to keep loose change and other small objects out of your dog’s reach.

Preventing Your Dog From Swallowing Pennies

Dogs are curious creatures and often explore the world around them by putting things in their mouths. This can be problematic when it comes to small, shiny objects like pennies. Swallowing a penny can lead to serious health issues for your furry friend, including gastrointestinal blockages, poisoning from the copper in the penny, and even organ damage.

Keep pennies out of reach

The best way to prevent your dog from swallowing a penny is to make sure they don’t have access to them. Keep your loose change in a secure container or out of your dog’s reach. It’s important to note that even a single penny can be hazardous, so be vigilant about picking up any loose change that may be lying around.

Train your dog ‘leave it’

Training your dog the command “leave it” can be extremely helpful in preventing them from picking up and swallowing objects they shouldn’t. By teaching your dog to leave items alone on command, you can quickly intervene if they show interest in a penny.

Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, can be used to reinforce this behavior.

Distract with chew toys

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One way to redirect your dog’s attention away from pennies is by providing them with appropriate chew toys. These toys can keep your dog mentally stimulated and help satisfy their natural urge to chew.

By giving them a safe and engaging alternative, you can reduce the likelihood of them seeking out small objects like pennies.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to keeping your dog safe from swallowing pennies. By taking simple precautions, such as keeping loose change out of reach, training your dog to “leave it,” and providing them with appropriate chew toys, you can minimize the risk and keep your furry friend happy and healthy.

Can A Dog Pass A Penny – Conclusion

While pennies aren’t toxic, allowing your dog to swallow coins over and over is unwise. With vigilance and training, keep spare change out of Fido’s reach.

If your dog does happen to get ahold of a penny, monitor them closely. Call your vet if you notice vomiting, appetite issues or other concerning symptoms. In most cases, the penny will pass without intervention.

By understanding penny dimensions, your dog’s digestive system, and potential risks, you can rest easy knowing exactly what to expect if your pup snags some spare change. With the right precautions, this small situation doesn’t have to create big worries.

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