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What are Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers?

Button batteries, magnets, and pennies are common items in most houses, and sometimes in places that we don’t expect. Button batteries can be found in items as diverse as greeting cards, flashing shoes, hearing aids, and small remote controls. Pennies can be stolen from low counters, found on the ground, or even in the wallet your best friend just chewed up. Magnets can be found on refrigerators, in jewelry, and in kids toys or executive desk toys. Each of these enticingly shiny items can prove to be deadly if your pet swallows them.

Many of the small items around the house can be dangerous for our pets. Some of the most lethal include button batteries, magnets, and pennies.

Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers Average Cost

From 205 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,800

Symptoms of Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers in Dogs

Button batteries

 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Black, tarry feces
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Fever/hyperthermia
  • Increase in white blood cells
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Mouth pain
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Ulcers on tongue
  • Vomiting

Pennies

 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Altered mental state
  • Anemia
  • Bleeding mouth or nose
  • Blood in urine
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Vomiting

Magnets

  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

Types

 

  • Button battery - These are usually small batteries used in smaller electronics like cameras, hearing aids and watches; although they contain several poisons such as mercury, zinc, and lithium, the small electrical current that they generate tends to cause more acute symptoms 

  • Penny - Pennies that are made of copper (pre-1982) can occasionally cause copper poisoning symptoms when ingested, however, pennies made primarily of zinc are much more dangerous 
  • Magnet - Magnets are trouble for your pet in an entirely different way; the substances that they are made from are generally non-toxic, and a single magnet may not cause a great deal of injury

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Causes of Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers in Dogs

Some button batteries contain cadmium and mercury, both of which can prove toxic to your pet, and the size of these batteries can cause choking. The button batteries present a risk more perilous than the poisoning as they can allow an electrical current to pass to nearby tissues, causing current-induced necrosis. One 3-volt lithium button battery can cause severe and permanent necrosis to the esophagus or gastrointestinal system in less than half an hour. 

Prior to 1982 most pennies were made of copper, which is only mildly toxic to your pet in the amount found in a penny. In 1982, the composition of a penny was changed as the cost of the amount of copper required to make a penny rose above the value of the coin itself, so a core of zinc was added. When pennies are swallowed, the copper sheath dissolves and releases the zinc into your dog's digestive system and bloodstream. 

Magnets are not usually toxic on their own, but they do pose a serious hazard if they are swallowed. If a single magnet may pass through the system without damage, but if two or more magnets are swallowed the magnetic attraction is often sufficient to tightly bond the magnets together even from different sections of the digestive tract. This can crush the walls of the intestine together, eventually causing loss of blood flow. The loss of blood flow and continued pressure where the magnets are connected will eventually lead to perforations in the tissues, and the intestinal contents are spilled into the abdominal cavity.

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Diagnosis of Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers in Dogs

If you suspect your pet has swallowed any of these items, it is imperative to transport your dog to a veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic as soon as possible even if no symptoms are occurring yet. These articles only rarely pass through the system undamaged and are more likely to cause permanent damage or death if not addressed in a timely manner. Your veterinarian is likely to start with a physical examination as well as customary tests like a urinalysis, (CBC)complete blood count, and biochemistry profile.

The mouth and esophagus will also be thoroughly checked for ulceration. In the case of penny ingestion, there may be elevated kidney levels and anemia may also be present. If a magnet was swallowed and a perforation of the intestines has occurred the blood poisoning will also show up in bloodwork. A radiograph (x-ray) is generally used to locate the foreign object in any of these cases. Quite often the veterinarian will be able to determine or confirm which item was swallowed by using this method, and treatment will usually start right away.

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Treatment of Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers in Dogs

Inducing vomiting is not recommended for any of these items as it is unlikely to flush the item out and it can cause additional problems like choking or further burning to the throat area. The spasms of the gastrointestinal system can create or worsen perforations caused by magnets. Your veterinarian will most likely admit your animal into the office immediately to either remove the item by endoscopy or to surgically remove the item. Once the item has been withdrawn, then the treatment can vary depending on what your pet swallowed and how long it has been.

Batteries have a high incidence of ulceration so antacids and stomach protectants may be recommended, and any burns to the mouth and esophagus will be addressed as well. Dogs who have perforated their intestine due to magnets may need to have part of the intestine removed in order to clear up the situation properly. The goal for treatment of zinc poisoning by penny ingestion is to decrease the absorption of the zinc, to correct anemia, and to minimize the chances that the kidneys or liver will fail. Blood transfusions are often required, and IV fluids will be given to flush the zinc from the system.

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Recovery of Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers in Dogs

Unless the foreign body was removed before it caused any real damage, your pet is likely to spend anywhere from several days to several weeks at the veterinary clinic for monitoring. Once your pet has returned home from the hospital a calm and quiet environment to recuperate in will help ensure a speedy recovery. Patients recovering from surgery anesthesia may have difficulty with coordination and muscle control when they first get home, and they are often disoriented. Isolation from other pets and from children is often wise until the anesthesia has fully cleared your companion’s system. Any medications that were prescribed by your veterinarian should be given as directed. It is vital that fresh water be available for your dog at all times as even minor dehydration has a high probability of making the situation worse, particularly if there is kidney involvement.

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Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers Average Cost

From 205 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Pug

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

my dog has thrown up 5 times. Doesn't seem to have any other symptoms yet. I found some small toy magnets that my kids have near the dog. I can't tell of any are missing. Are there symptoms I should be watching for. Is throwing up an indicator that she ate one?

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Vomiting could be a sign of a foreign body, yes. If she continues to vomit or is lethargic, it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to examine her, may have to take an x-ray, but they will be able to figure out what's going on. I hope that she is okay.

July 28, 2020

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Labradoodle

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Seven Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None Yet

It is possible that my dog swallowed a single magnet. Should I take him to our vet or wait to see if any symptoms appear?

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. The answer kind of depends on the size of the magnet. If it is a small magnet, and may not cause any GI upset or struction, but it may be fine to monitor your dog. If you see any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite, then it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian right away. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

July 23, 2020

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Gabby

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German Shepherd

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15 Months

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Fair severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

I found two magnetron my son's floor and have no clue where they came from. I have magnetized at home and didn't see any cracked or broken. They looked like the magnets from a magnatile though. There was no broken plastic pieces or any other magnets anywhere. How long would it take to see symptoms if my dog ate a magnatile or the small magnets?

Dec. 9, 2017

Gabby's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

You should keep a close eye on Gabby over the weekend for any strange or out of character behaviour or symptoms; it may be that she didn’t consume any or it may be a case that she consumed something and it will pass. If two magnets are consumed, they can cause a lot of trouble in the gastrointestinal tract; if you believe she consumed something you should have her checked over to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 9, 2017

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Button Battery, Penny, and Magnet Dangers Average Cost

From 205 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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