Activated Charcoal for Dogs: Uses, Risks, and Dosages

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Activated charcoal has a number of medicinal purposes. It has a long history of use in the detoxification of poisoned patients and it is widely used in water filtration, skincare, and oral care.

In veterinary medicine, activated charcoal is proven effective in treating a poisoned dog or cat. But can it be used in managing the symptoms of flatulence and diarrhea? Get to know the other uses of activated charcoal for pets.

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is also called activated carbon. It is a special type of carbon that keeps the toxins and chemicals from being absorbed in the stomach. The negative electrical charge draws positively loaded molecules, including gases and poisons.

There are several types of raw materials used in creating activated carbon. Besides the commonly used coal, wood, coconut shells and peat can also be used to make activated carbon. The raw material is burned at a very high temperature.

Activated charcoal draws in a number of toxicants. The examples of toxic substances it can bind with include amphetamines, Fungicides, Nicotine, Morphine, Camphor, Organochlorine insecticides, and Organic metal compounds.

What Are the Uses of Activated Charcoal for Dogs?

Activated charcoal is primarily used in treating poisoned dogs. Aside from this, here are the other uses of activated charcoal in veterinary medicine:

  • For treating gas or flatulence in dogs – to help a dog suffering from flatulence, you may administer activated charcoal in tablet form for not more than three days. Powder the tablet and add it to liquid. It can be mixed with cold water to reduce its thick consistency.
  • For gastric relief – it can be given to dogs with diarrhea. It works by binding the bacteria in your pet’s gut to give him quick relief.
  • For eliminating bad breath – it helps in freshening up your dog’s breath because it can get rid of tartar and plaque that could build up on your pet’s teeth.
  • For itching – you can give a dog a charcoal bath to control itching. You can also give it internally by sprinkling it in the pet’s water or food.

How to Administer Charcoal to Dogs

Activated charcoal is administered orally. The recommended dosage is 1-3 grams for every kilogram of weight. A vet may prescribe a higher dose if there is food in the stomach and if the dog ingested a large quantity of a toxic substance.

In the emergency room, it is usually administered along with Sorbitol. This has a laxative effect so it speeds up the elimination of the bound toxins. It also stimulates the movement of the bowel by drawing water all the way to the large intestine. Activated charcoal combined with sorbitol facilitates fast excretion of the harmful substance via the feces.

Veterinarians usually suggest inducing vomiting first instead of giving the activated charcoal right away. It is safer to force a dog to vomit first before considering the administration of charcoal. This is due to the fact that the gastric system should be emptied for the charcoal to work effectively.

Is Activated Charcoal Safe for Dogs?

Yes, it is safe. However, guidance from a veterinarian will be helpful especially if your pet is currently on other types of medications. It should not be given shortly before giving vitamins, amino acids, and antibiotics because it will only bind with these substances.

A commonly used brand for dogs is the ToxiBan. The brand is termed the “gold standard” for managing animal poisoning. ToxiBan is available in two formulations: suspension and suspension with sorbitol. If your vet prescribed ToxiBan, the dosage for the suspension and suspension with sorbitol will depend on the size of the animal.

A small dog can take 10-20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. For larger dogs, the recommended dosage is 4-12milligrams for every kilogram of weight. You may administer it directly or mix it with cold water.

The granule ToxiBan can be diluted so you can create a suspension. The formula for suspension is 1 level cup to 6 cups of water. The suggested dose is 2-4 grams for every kilogram of body weight for small dogs and itshould be reduced to 0.75-2 grams per kilogram for larger dogs.

According to numerous studies conducted in people and animals, the efficacy of activated charcoal depends on the time of ingestion. It should be administered an hour after the ingestion of a toxic substance.

What Are the Risks of Giving Activated Charcoal to Dogs?

Activated charcoal does not have dangerous side effects. However, it does not recognize toxins from vitamins and minerals. Aside from binding with toxins, it can also bind with important nutrients in a dog’s body. Given that, administering charcoal is not the first option in treating a poisoned dog.

In holistic veterinary medicine, activated charcoal is also being used for treating parvovirus at home given its proven toxin absorption. It’s believed that you should administer 10 milligrams of it every 15 minutes. There are some pet owners who mix it with liquid and offer it every four hours.

While this might work, this is not the best option. Activated charcoal is not supposed to be administered for more than three times and one has to wait for 8 hours before administering the next dose.

If you suspect that your dog is infected with parvo, don’t give any medication without a vet’s advice. There are different kinds of treatments for parvo that are more effective and safer than activated charcoal.

The Bottom Line

It’s worth noting that not all poisons have antidotes. Therefore, you should not give activated charcoal automatically to a poisoned dog. This substance is considered safe for animals but can post danger if administered without a vet’s guidance. It is crucial to see how your pet’s internal organs are functioning and that can only be done by bringing him to a vet.

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