If you have never heard of activated charcoal before, it is a common medication that is often used to treat intoxication in dogs. It gets to work after your dog has ingested a toxic substance of some description, lessening its effects to help your hound return to their healthy state once again. It is very commonly used, especially against certain toxins. This is a substance that you can administer yourself or by a trained professional at the vet’s office. However, this doesn’t stop you learning everything that you can about this substance in case your furry friend ever needs to be given it. So, this is the information that we are going to provide you with in this guide, so you are fully prepared.
We are going to start with an overview of what activated charcoal is and how it is commonly used. In fact, some people still use it, so it is suitable for human usage as well as animal. We will then describe the ways that you give it to your dog, which can be done yourself in less serious situations, and by a trained veterinary professional at other times. And then we have the limitations and risks to discuss as well. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is also known as activated carbon, which is generated by transforming the natural form of the mineral into oxidized steam. This consists of vapors, acids, and oxygen forming charcoal that has an absorbent surface area packed the fine pores. The form of this substance is important as it is exactly this that allows it to absorb so many toxins that may negatively affect your pooch. This is a substance that is also taken by humans, so you will be able to find it in your local pharmacy or health food shop in powder, pill, granule, or liquid form. Some of the maladies that it can be used to treat include stomach pains and heartburn.
You can easily find activated charcoal tablets for dogs and biscuits with the substance already baked in. For it to be at its most effective, it needs to be administered at the earliest possible stage after consumption of the toxins to maximize absorption and efficiency in getting the harmful substance out of your dog’s body. Activated charcoal is a substance that has been approved by the FDA, and while human use has declined over the past few years, it is still a substance that remains popular for animal usage.
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
Having some activated charcoal emergency kit can help to protect your dog from further harm. If your dog is suffering from acute poisoning, it can absorb the toxins that are in the upper intestinal tract of your dog through a process known as covalent bonding. This process makes excreting the toxins easier, as well as reducing the amount found in your dog’s bloodstream.
How effective the activated charcoal proves to be depends on how long it is since your pooch has ingested the toxins, the type of toxins that your dog has ingested, as well as how well it binds with the charcoal. It is generally accepted wisdom that it works best within one hour after toxin ingestion, but the positive effects can still be seen many hours after this. The toxins that it works against include alcohol, ferrous sulfate, caustic alkalis, nitrates, petroleum distillates and mineral acids.
How To Give Activated Charcoal to Your Dog
Activated charcoal comes as tablets, granules, powder, or even dog biscuits. The latter makes it easy for you to feed your pooch directly. In an ideal situation, the substance would be administered to your dog one hour after they have ingested the toxin, but there may be benefits outside of this timeframe too. Treatment is permanent, as when the toxin bounds to the charcoal, it doesn’t get released again.
The way that you administer the substance depends on how severe a reaction your dog is showing. If the clinical symptoms are nonexistent, it can be added to your dog’s water for drinking. With all of the above, you can make the most of your dog’s appetite by mixing it in with their regular meal. Many dogs are not fussy eaters and will eat more or less whatever is put in front of them. Generally, this shouldn’t significantly affect the absorptive abilities of the activated charcoal, and it will also mean that you don’t have a fight trying to force it down your dog’s throat!
If you ended up taking your dog to the vet, they may administer the activated charcoal via a syringe or a nasogastric tube. This ensures that it gets inside your dog and has the maximum positive effects. If your pet’s life is on the line, a vet should obviously always be involved in the situation. Alternatively, it may be the case that you are simply struggling to give the substance to your dog as you have a fussy eater on your hands.
The recovery time for your pooch depends largely on the toxin that your dog has ingested and how much of it they have eaten. It could happen within a period of hours, or it may even take several days. Whatever happens, you should be in close communication with your vet, reporting on any developments as they occur and responding to any advice as it is given. But there are no specific maintenance tasks that need to be completed after activated charcoal has been given. Recovery is likely to be similar as in humans – plenty of rest and fluids. Always take the advice of your vet for the best ways that you can help your pooch get back on their feet and back to normal once again.
Limitations and Risks of Activated Charcoal
No substance is entirely perfect, so it is worth knowing about the limitations of activated charcoal before you decide to give it to your pooch. Since it is such an effective absorption product, it may actually end up absorbing some of the essential nutrients from your dog’s body. Around five grams is recommended per 10 pounds of your dog’s bodyweight, but it is worth checking this figure with your vet before administering anything. You should also have a good idea of your dog’s weight to ensure that you get everything right.
There are plenty of toxins that activated charcoal has been shown to not be so effective against. These include detergents and drain cleaners, as well as fertilizer, ethanol, sodium chloride, xylitol, and many candies and baked goods that aren’t good for your dog. So, double check to make sure that the activated charcoal actually has a chance of working.
As for the risks of taking activated charcoal, these include aspiration and vomiting. It has also been linked with higher sodium blood levels in dogs. So, after administering the substance, you should always keep a close eye on your dog to check that they are not having any adverse reactions to the substance.
In terms of cost, activated charcoal is relatively cheap – between $5 and $20 is average. But treatment of the toxins that your dog has ingested may run up a higher bill as other medicines and procedures may be required. Everything depends on the severity of the symptoms exhibited by your dog and how much vet bills are in your local area.
As the old saying goes, prevention is far better than the cure, so you are much better off stopping your dog from ingesting harmful substances in the first place. And there are plenty of substances that are potentially damaging to canines. Keep harmful foods like chocolate in properly closing cabinets. Seal away all your medicines and cleaning products with the lids kept on. If you are using anything like rat poisoning, you should use it in areas which your dog is not able to access. Double check that your household plants or anything else found under your roof isn’t going to put your pup if harm’s way.
Activated charcoal can be a highly useful substance is tackling all sorts of toxins that your dog may ingest. It is readily available over the counter and is generally given to your dog mixed in with their food or water. It works well against many toxins, but it doesn’t work against all of them, so it is worth checking to make sure that it is going to have some positive benefits to your dog. With enough knowledge in the area, you can give your pet activated charcoal. It is also a substance that is commonly used at the vet. If you believe that your dog is in an emergency situation, you should make sure to contact your animal professional as soon as you can.