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“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” — Roger Caras
Activated Charcoal For Dogs

When and How to Use Activated Charcoal for Dogs

All dogs, being scavengers, have the capacity to ingest harmful substances, such as insecticides, bromethalin (the active ingredient in mouse and rat poison), dried fruits, chocolate, and other items that are hazardous to him. If you discover your puppy licking a known poison or you suspect he’s eaten something, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately – prompt treatment can be crucial for a full recovery.

Clearly explain the symptoms to your vet, and if you know, exactly what and how much he’s eaten – if possible, take any packaging with you to show the vet. Even if your puppy isn’t displaying any distress, the product might be causing internal problems that aren’t apparent yet, and a call to the vet can alleviate any worries.

Should you suspect your pet has consumed a hazardous substance, your veterinarian or the helpline’s medical practitioner might suggest a remedy that should be in your medicine cabinet – activated charcoal.

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal, or carbon, is a medicine frequently utilized in dogs that have ingested something poisonous or have overdosed. The activated charcoal has the ability to absorb toxins, neutralizing them, and is a widely used, first instance therapy administered by your veterinarian or ER vet.

There are certain limitations, however, and if the ingested item is corrosive, such as alkalis and strong acids, including ethanol, ethylene glycol, boric acid, or petroleum-based products, giving activated charcoal won’t help your pet.

How is activated charcoal administered to your dog?

If the situation calls for it, the vet may wish to induce vomiting as the first line of treatment – this removes toxins from the stomach and can be followed by dosing with activated charcoal.

The administration of activated charcoal is dependent upon the seriousness of your pet’s symptoms. If your pet is displaying no clinical signs, activated charcoal can be added to water to your dog to consume. For dogs with moderate to severe symptoms, your vet will administer activated charcoal via an orogastric tube straight into the stomach.

If the toxins are already being processed by your dog’s liver, the charcoal is likely to be administered several times in a 24 hour period over a few days.

Often, in severe cases, sorbitol is given alongside the charcoal. Acting as a laxative, it accelerates the removal of the charcoal, with the toxins bound to it, from the animal’s body.

Your pet’s recovery is dependent, not only on the toxin ingested but also upon the speed any treatment is given.

Other uses of activated charcoal for dogs

Activated charcoal has other uses in pet care, asides from treating toxin ingestion, and it can be helpful to have some in your pet’s medical kit just in case.  Often given to ease digestive problems, it’s a gentle treatment to calm an upset stomach.

Gas

Just one charcoal tablet can often help prevent gas and flatulence in dogs; however, you need to speak to your vet if your puppy has continuous flatulence.

Diarrhea

Activated charcoal acts as a binding agent, and it can, in some cases, bond with, and neutralize, the bacteria that is causing diarrhea, thus easing the symptoms. If your dog has an upset stomach, ensure he has access to clean water to keep hydrated – dehydration can occur very rapidly, causing further, more serious issues.

If diarrhea persists, or you notice blood in the feces, please contact your local veterinary practice.

Bad Breath

If your dog’s smelly breath is a result of an intestinal imbalance – which is a frequent cause, activated charcoal can, by soothing the digestive tract, eliminate any smells.

Itchy skin

Using activated charcoal in the form of powder when you bath your pooch can soothe itchy skin. Mix a little into the warm water, and rub it into your dog’s skin, but remember to rinse it out thoroughly before gently toweling him dry.

How much should you use?

The normal dose of activated charcoal is all about 1-3 g per every 2 lbs of body fat. Watch out for any allergic reactions, and if your vet prescribes charcoal, follow their advice. Charcoal tends to be most effective when taken on an empty stomach.

Safety Concerns

Activated charcoal is seen as being a gentle treatment, but if you feed nutritional supplements or any forms of medication, try not to feed the two too close together, as the charcoal can absorb the nutrients, rendering your supplements ineffective.

For Parvovirus

Some holistic veterinary clinics are suggesting using activated charcoal to help treat the potentially fatal disease, parvovirus, claiming that it will somehow absorb the virus. This is not true! If you suspect parvovirus – you should seek medical advice.  Parvo is life-threatening and rapidly becomes severe.

Take preventative measures

Always ensure that your beloved pet cannot get to any toxins or poisons, or indeed, anything that may harm him. Keep products such as antifreeze – pups are attracted by the sweet flavor, pest killers, motor oils, and kitchen cleaning chemicals out of the way of an inquisitive and determined pooch.

Remember, prevention is the best form of medicine!

Keep the animal poison control telephone number on your fridge, together with the telephone number for your vet, and your nearest after-hours emergency clinic. Know the directions to their practices in case of an emergency.

Be well prepared and it might save your furry pal’s life.

 

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