Dogs are curious creatures, and they like to chew on things they shouldn't. This often leads to them ingesting things that aren't good for them, like human prescription pills or poisonous foods. In some cases, it can even be life-threatening. Fortunately, there is a way to help prevent your dog from getting sick by giving them activated charcoal. The use of activated charcoal for dogs can help bind toxins in the intestinal tract to prevent absorption. Keep reading to learn more about this useful substance and how you can use it to keep your dog safe!
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a fine, black powder that is made from carbon. It is activated by being treated with oxygen, which makes it more porous and capable of absorbing many substances and toxins.
How does activated charcoal work?
When activated charcoal is ingested, it binds to toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and prevents their absorption into the body. This makes activated charcoal an ideal treatment for dogs that have ingested poison or toxins.
How safe is activated charcoal for dogs?
Activated charcoal is considered safe for dogs when used as directed. However, it is important to talk to your veterinarian before giving activated charcoal to your dog, as they will be able to give you the correct dosage based on your dog's weight and the severity of their toxicity.
When do veterinarians recommend giving activated charcoal to dogs?
Activated charcoal is one of the best ways to get rid of any type of toxicity in your body, and it does so by adsorbing a chemical or toxicant. It's administered when a dog ingests poisons, chemicals or bacterial toxins for example. What many people don't know is that enterohepatic recirculation can happen with some compounds that are metabolized by the liver - these metabolites end up getting emptied into bile which then reabsorbs them in their small intestines!
When should activated charcoal not be used?
Activated charcoal should not be given to dogs that have ingested caustic materials (e.g. batteries). These caustic materials are not absorbed systemically, and the charcoal may make it more difficult to diagnose potential oral and esophageal burns.
What are the side effects of using activated charcoal in dogs?
The most common side effect of activated charcoal is constipation. If your dog is constipated after taking activated charcoal, talk to your veterinarian about giving them a stool softener or laxative.
Another side effect of using activated charcoal for dogs is hypernatremia or elevated blood sodium levels. This effect is most commonly seen in small patients who receive multiple doses of activated charcoal, but it can also occur with single or multiple doses. Check for hypernatremia (elevated blood sodium) symptoms after activated charcoal therapy, which generally appears within 2–3 hours and often starts with facial and ear twitching.
How is activated charcoal administered to dogs?
Activated charcoal for dogs is administered orally. If your dog is resistant to having charcoal directly administered into its mouth, you can mix it with a food that they find highly palatable. However, doing so will reduce the adsorptive capacity of charcoal somewhat, so you should consider increasing the dose by 20 to 30 percent.
If you're giving the activated charcoal with food, start by giving a small amount of plain food to get the dog's attention before introducing the activated charcoal. Canned dog food can be used, but melted vanilla ice cream often works well for dogs and cats.
FAQs about the use of activated charcoal for dogs
What is the recommended dosage of activated charcoal for dogs?
The recommended dosage of activated charcoal for dogs is 1–3 grams per kilogram of body weight. Repeated doses of activated charcoal every 4 to 8 hours at half the original dose may be indicated when the body recycles the toxin back into the intestine via enterohepatic circulation.
Please note that this dosing advice is meant to be informational only and not to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. Please contact your veterinarian for proper dosing based on your dog, the toxin ingested and the estimated time of ingestion.
When is the best time to give activated charcoal to dogs?
Assuming it is past the point in which inducing vomiting will be beneficial to remove the toxin(s) from the stomach (i.e. after 1-2 hours), knowing the toxin or poison is greatly important. Rapidly absorbing human drug tablets require activated charcoal administration earlier than slowly absorbed rodenticides for example.
Activated charcoal should be given as soon as possible after your dog has ingested a toxin. If you're unsure whether or not your dog has ingested something poisonous, it's always better to err on the side of caution and give them activated charcoal at the direction of your veterinarian.
How long does activated charcoal stay in a dog's system?
The effects of activated charcoal typically last for 4 to 6 hours but may last up to 12 hours. After this time, activated charcoal is no longer effective at adsorbing toxins and should not be given again.
How often can activated charcoal be given to dogs?
Activated charcoal can be given every 4 to 6 hours as needed. If your dog has ingested a large amount of poison, or if you're unsure how much they've ingested, it's best to consult your veterinarian for proper dosing and frequency.
In summary, activated charcoal is a safe and effective treatment for dogs that have ingested toxins or poisons. It is important to talk to your veterinarian before giving activated charcoal to your dog, as they will be able to give you the correct dosage based on your dog's weight and the severity of their toxicity. If you have any questions about the use of activated charcoal for dogs, please contact your veterinarian for further advice.