activated charcoal for dogs and where to buy it

Activated Charcoal For Dogs and Cats

Activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon, is a form of carbon that has been processed to have a large surface area and numerous pores. The process of activating charcoal involves heating carbon-rich materials, such as wood, coconut shells, or peat, at high temperatures. This creates a network of microscopic pores within the charcoal, significantly increasing its surface area. Activated charcoal is commonly used in various industries, including medicine, water filtration, air purification, and even in beauty and skincare products. In medical settings, it’s used to treat cases of poisoning or overdose by binding to the toxic substances in the digestive system, preventing their absorption into the bloodstream.

For dogs and cats, activated charcoal can be a real hero. If they accidentally eat something dangerous, like a harmful plant or a yucky chemical, giving them activated charcoal (after talking to your vet, of course!) can help stop those bad things from getting into their body. Let’s dive in and explore how activated charcoal can be a lifesaver for our furry companions. Discover the benefits, learn about safe usage, and understand why it’s a must-have in your pet care toolkit.

How Activated Charcoal Works

Once ingested, activated charcoal acts akin to a sponge within the digestive tract. It magnetically attracts and binds an array of toxins, chemicals, and undesired substances, thwarting their absorption into the bloodstream. Instead, these bound toxins are safely escorted out of the body through feces.

What Does Activated Charcoal Do For Dogs and Cats

Activated charcoal, with its remarkable toxin-binding properties, proves to be a versatile tool in safeguarding the health of our beloved pets. Here are some of the most common applications:

Toxin and Poison Ingestion

dog with activated charcoal

Activated charcoal stands as a crucial tool in veterinary medicine for mitigating gastrointestinal (GI) tract toxins in cats and dogs. Our curious furry friends can sometimes get into things they shouldn’t, like harmful plants or substances around the house. When this happens, activated charcoal acts like a shield. It has a spongy structure that lets it soak up a wide range of poisons and medicines in the stomach and intestines, stopping them from getting into the bloodstream. This makes it super effective when pets accidentally eat harmful stuff or take too much medicine. 

But it’s good to remember that activated charcoal doesn’t work against acids or strong chemicals, so in those cases, different treatments are needed.You have to be careful when giving it to avoid making the pet throw up, especially if there’s a risk they might inhale it. It’s also really important to keep an eye on their sodium levels, especially if they’re small, to avoid a condition called hypernatremia

Alleviating Digestive Issues

Activated charcoal isn’t just for emergencies; it can also be a helpful ally in dealing with common digestive problems that our pets may face.

  • Gas and Bloating: Just like us, dogs and cats can experience discomfort from gas and bloating. Activated charcoal can come to the rescue by absorbing excess gas in their digestive tract. It’s like giving them a soothing solution to help ease their discomfort.

  • Upset Stomach and Diarrhea: When our pets have upset stomachs or diarrhea, it can be distressing for both them and us. Activated charcoal can be a gentle aid in these situations. It works by absorbing the excess substances in their gut that may be causing the upset, providing relief and helping them get back on their paws in no time.

Detoxification and Internal Cleansing

Just like we need a good cleanse from time to time, our pets can also benefit from a little detox. Activated charcoal’s remarkable ability to bind to toxins and impurities extends to their bloodstream. As it moves through their system, it acts like a magnet, grabbing onto unwanted substances and safely escorting them out of the body. This process can help clear out any lingering toxins, ensuring that your pet’s body is operating at its best.

Again, it’s important to talk to your holistic vet or a certified pet health coach before using activated charcoal for digestive issues. They can provide tailored advice on dosage and administration, ensuring your pet’s well-being.

The Recommended Form of Activated Charcoal for Pets

Activated charcoal for pets comes in various forms, each suited for specific situations and preferences.

  • Powdered Activated Charcoal (PAC) is versatile and can be mixed with food or water, commonly used for treating toxin ingestion and digestive issues. It’s crucial to ensure high-quality, finely ground powder.
  • Activated Charcoal Capsules offer precise dosing, particularly important in toxin ingestion cases.
  • Activated Charcoal Paste or Gel is applied topically for skin problems, wounds, or insect bites.
  • Activated Charcoal Suspension, a liquid form, is administered orally with a syringe, ideal for pets difficult to pill.

When choosing, consider the pet’s condition, willingness to consume, and your comfort with administration.

Dr. Ruth Roberts Personal Recommendation

Dr. Ruth Roberts includes activated charcoal in her Pet Support Protocol, recommending it specifically for promoting gut health and aiding in mold detoxification. It can be beneficial to incorporate 1/2 capsule per 25 pounds of body weight daily.

Precautions and Considerations

Orally Administered Adsorbent for GI Tract Toxins/Drugs: Activated charcoal works by adsorbing (binding) toxins and drugs in the gastrointestinal tract. It essentially acts like a sponge, trapping harmful substances and preventing them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Effective for Overdoses: It is particularly effective in cases of overdose, where a pet has consumed a toxic substance in large quantities.

Not Effective for Mineral Acids/Alkalis: Activated charcoal is not effective against substances like mineral acids or alkalis. These corrosive substances can cause damage quickly, and charcoal is not able to neutralize them.

Potential for Inducing Emesis/Aspiration: If administered too rapidly or in excessive amounts, activated charcoal can induce vomiting. This is why it’s crucial to administer it carefully, especially in cases where the animal is already at risk of aspiration (inhalation of vomit).

Monitoring for Hypernatremia in Small Dogs & Cats: Hypernatremia, an elevated level of sodium in the blood, can occur if activated charcoal is given in large quantities to small dogs and cats. This is because some formulations of activated charcoal contain sodium as an ingredient. Monitoring the pet’s electrolyte levels is important in such cases.

Handle with Care Due to Staining: Activated charcoal is a fine black powder that can easily stain surfaces, clothing, and skin. It’s important to handle it with care and use protective measures to prevent staining.

FAQ on Activated Charcoal for Pet

Yes, there are potential interactions to consider. It’s advised to separate the administration of any other orally administered therapeutic agents from the charcoal dose by at least 3 hours.

Yes, mineral oil can potentially reduce the adsorptive capacity of activated charcoal. Additionally, dairy products may reduce the adsorptive capacity of activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is primarily used as a reactive measure after toxin ingestion. It’s not typically used preventatively, but consult your vet for specific recommendations based on your pet’s circumstances.

Dr. Ruth Roberts DVM, CVA

Dr. Ruth Roberts Holistiv Vet

Dr. Ruth Roberts is The Original Pet Health Coach, and has supported thousands of dogs and cats to overcome health hurdles like kidney disease, GI Illness, allergies and cancer. Her natural approach to healing creates a gentle yet effective path for your pet to take on their journey to wellbeing. Dr. Ruth created The Original CrockPet Diet, a balanced home cooked diet for pets, as the foundation of health. Dr. Ruth is now training passionate pet parents, and pet professionals to be Certified Holistic Pet Health Coaches so that more pets can be helped holistically.