Activated charcoal has become very popular in the last couple of years. We use it for many different things, to whiten our teeth for example. But can we use activated charcoal for dogs?
The answer is yes. Veterinarians use activated charcoal to treat intoxication in dogs, it absorbs ingested toxins and lessens their effects.
In theory, it sounds simple. Just give your dog some Activated charcoal. However, there are certain things you need to keep in mind before using activated charcoal for dogs.
For starters, only veterinarians can administer active charcoal, later on, we’re going to explain why.
Activated charcoal for dogs
Sometimes it can happen that your dog eats something they’re not supposed to, like chocolate, aspirin, or maybe insecticides. In those cases, you should immediately contact your veterinarian.
Even if your dog isn’t showing any symptoms, call your vet! Let them know what happened.
In most cases, your veterinarian will probably recommend a remedy that you already have in your medicine cabinet: activated charcoal. Yes, the same substance you sometimes use to whiten your teeth!
Benefits of activated charcoal
Activated charcoal is actually beneficial for many conditions. Not only for dogs but for humans too! But let’s first see what activated charcoal is.
The black substance we call activated charcoal is a food-grade pill, powder, liquid, or granule. No matter in which form you buy it, it does the same job. It binds and absorbs poison.
You can picture it like a big sponge. It absorbs all of the toxins and expels them from your or your dog’s body through the excretion of feces.
We get activated charcoal when coconut shells, olive pits, bamboo, or wood are burned at a high temperature and turned into ash. By doing all of this we get a completely black, odorless, and tasteless substance.
In humans, activated charcoal helps to alleviate bloating, gas, heartburn, stomach pains, and bad breath. Back in the day, it was even used in emergency rooms to treat food poisoning.
Another great benefit of activated charcoal is that once a toxin has been bound to it, it is not released. This means that charcoal is actually a permanent solution to the problem of intoxication.
Downside of activated charcoal
Just like any treatment activated charcoal, no matter how natural it is, does not come without downsides.
- It can be too effective
Activated charcoal can sometimes be too effective. Charcoal doesn’t absorb only the harmful toxins. Sometimes it absorbs important nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy.
- Doesn’t always help
Not all toxins your dog ingests can be absorbed by active charcoal. This is the case with for example a corrosive type of material like sodium hydroxide. It’s found in cleaners and detergents.
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Besides this, chemicals like fertilizer, fluoride, sodium chloride and ethanol are other toxins that can’t be absorbed by activated charcoal.
- Can cause dehydration and increase sodium levels in blood
In very rare cases activated charcoal can actually cause dehydration and dangerously increase blood sodium levels.
This can make your dog’s symptoms and reaction worse! They could potentially lose control of their bodily functions, and it could lead to death.
Now, this happens in only rare cases, however it’s important to remember these sideeffects too.
This is also the reason we stated earlier that it’s best if only your veterinarian gives your dog activated charcoal.
Dosage of Activated charcoal for dogs
Now, before giving your dog activated charcoal you need to know which amount is okay to give.
Charcoal is an effective absorption tool, this means that it will absorb everything. Even some of the good nutrients your dog ingested. This is why its important to know the proper dosage.
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Experts recommend giving 5 grams of activated charcoal per 10 pounds of body weight. Of course, always check with your veterinarian, and please do not give it without consulting a professional.