Also known as activated carbon, absorbent charcoal, or active carbon, activated charcoal is a substance that has the capability of detoxifying your pet, and is particularly effective in case of dogs. It is a carbon residue which is derived from vegetable material, for example wood pulp.
Activated charcoal is a well-recognized name in veterinary medicine. It is not recommended for human use, but animals, especially dogs, have been known to benefit a lot from this form of carbon.
How is Activated Charcoal Generated?
It is generated by transforming the natural form into oxidized steam, which comprises of oxygen, vapors, and acids at a very high temperature. The charcoal thus produced is characterized by fine pores and its surface area develops the capability to absorb.
Courtesy its sizeable surface area, activated carbon can absorb many toxins that might hamper your dog’s health and wellbeing. For instance, toxins like acetaminophen which is present in Paracetamol, carbonated insecticides that may be kept in the garden shed, and rodent medicine are absorbed well by activated charcoal.
Can I Give Activated Charcoal to My Dog?
Yes, you can administer activated charcoal to your dog as and when the situation calls for it. In cases of acute poisoning, activated charcoal absorbs the toxins in the upper gastrointestinal tract of your dog through covalent bonding. It then facilitates the excretion of the absorbed toxins and also reduces their concentration in the dog’s bloodstream.
Effectiveness of activated charcoal depends on the time lapsed after ingestion of the poison, type of ingested poison and capability of the toxin to bind with this substance.
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
Toxic substances present in your canine’s stomach and intestine, as well as minerals and vitamins, attach themselves to the fine-sized particles of activated charcoal. The procedure works successfully owing to the large exposed surface area of the charcoal.
Activated charcoal works in a reversible process, meaning it follows rapid absorption and slow desorption. Study shows that to obtain optimal results the ratio of charcoal to toxin should be 10:1 or higher. Oral administration of this form of carbon shows a drop in the level of toxins within 12-18 hours.
How to Give Activated Charcoal to Your Dog
It is available in powdered form and also as tablets or granules. Usually, it is administered orally, through the dog’s mouth with water or by using a syringe. At times when your dog is unwilling, you might require a stomach tube. If you are successful in making your dog swallow this substance, the charcoal will pass through its body and will start absorbing toxins.
Can Activated Charcoal be Ineffective?
Despite its high rate of success in removing toxins, activated charcoal does not absorb every kind of poison. Suppose your dog has somehow consumed contaminants like ethanol, cyanide, or alcohol then activated charcoal will not be of any help.
The efficiency of this type of charcoal also depends on timing. The sooner you introduce the charcoal the better are the chances of reducing the impending danger. In case the situation has aggravated beyond control, there is little difference that activated charcoal can make.
Activated charcoal can save your dog from poisoning and sooner the exposure, the better is the result. The usual dosage of this charcoal is a single 5 g compressed tablet for 10 lbs. of weight. However, since it does not absorb all kinds of toxins, it is best to consult your vet before administering it.
- Dr. Catherine Sumner, Activated Charcoal, The MSPCA–Angell
- Vet Tech Corner: 3 Tips For Giving Activated Charcoal, ASPCA pro