Using Activated Charcoal for Dogs

Can dogs eat it

Written By: Angela Jakeson

Using Activated Charcoal for Dogs
Reading Time: 6 minutes

joana garridoReviewed By Joana Garrido DVM

Dogs’ curiosity can lead them to stuff potentially toxic substances in their mouth. And this is where activated charcoal for dogs comes in handy.

We made this guide to help you learn when and how to use activated charcoal for dogs effectively in cases of poisoning.

What Is Activated Charcoal for Dogs?

a bowl of activated charcoal

Activated charcoal for dogs is a medication commonly used to help reverse certain types of poisoning. It is a fine black powder derived from carbon with compound-binding abilities.

When Do Veterinarians Recommend Giving Activated Charcoal to Dogs?

When can I give activated charcoal to my dog? Activated charcoal binds to toxins and prevents them from getting absorbed into the body.

Its compound-binding abilities make the activated charcoal an emergency treatment option for some toxin ingestion in dogs, such as:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Anticoagulant rodenticides
  • Carbamate insecticides
  • Digoxin
  • Pyrethroids
  • Strychnine
  • Overdose of non steroidal anti-inflammatories

When Should Activated Charcoal Not Be Used On Dogs?

Activated charcoal for dogs has its limitations, meaning it is not always the answer to all types of poisoning. It does not effectively bind to certain toxic chemicals like:

  • Alcohol
  • Arsenic
  • Bromide
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Kerosene
  • Metaldehyde

Before deciding whether to provide activated charcoal as an emergency treatment for your dog’s toxic ingestion, your pet must first be stabilized using normal techniques. If your dog’s symptoms of toxicity are severe, such as unconsciousness, seizure, or loss of gag reflex, activated charcoal may not be recommended, and you should immediately send your dog to the vet.

In any case, if your dog has ingested a toxic substance, it is important to inform the vet immediately. They will assess the situation and determine whether or not activated charcoal is the appropriate emergency treatment for the type of poisoning your dog has experienced.

Other Uses of Activated Charcoal for Dogs

Diarrhea remedy

Pet owners often ask: “Can I give my dog activated charcoal for diarrhea?” Activated charcoal can be administered to dogs with diarrhea as it binds and neutralizes the bacteria causing the problem in the gastrointestinal tract.

Stops the bad dog smell

Activated charcoal works as an odor neutralizer, which helps eliminate the stink coming from your furry pal’s fur or mouth. Some brands of dog shampoo and toothpaste use it in their formulas.

How Does Activated Charcoal Work?

activated charcoal tablets

To learn how activated charcoal for dogs works, we need to walk you through how activated charcoal is made.

Burning natural carbon resources like coconut shells and wood at high temperatures creates activated charcoal. It then goes through the activation process to create many cracks and crevices called pores on its body.

So, what will activated charcoal do to a dog when used to treat poisoning? The numerous pores increase the toxin-binding ability of the activated charcoal, allowing more poison control. In just 180 minutes, it can reduce toxins by 80%.

Activated Charcoal for Dogs Side Effects

activated charcoal powder

Is activated charcoal safe for dogs? Generally, it is safe to use on dogs as long as it is appropriately administered.

The following unwanted side effects of activated charcoal usually appear when pet owners fail to give the correct dosage:

  • Aspiration
  • Black feces
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypernatremia
  • Intestinal blockage

In connection to this topic, let us answer the commonly asked question: “Can I give my dog activated charcoal for chocolate?”

The use of activated charcoal is advised only during high-dose cases of chocolate toxicity. This is to prevent the abnormal elevation of sodium levels in your pet’s body, which can be life-threatening.

Recommended Activated Charcoal Dosage on Dogs

activated charcoal paste

“How much activated charcoal do I give my dog?” is a crucial question to ask when planning to administer activated charcoal to your canine friend.

As we have mentioned earlier, a wrong dose leads to the development of side effects.

Ideally, 1 to 3 grams of activated charcoal should be administered to dogs per kilogram of body weight.

So, a dog that weighs 20 kilos should be given around 20 to 60 grams of activated charcoal.

Remember that time is of the essence when giving activated charcoal to dogs. When administered immediately after toxin ingestion, it can prevent the development of poisoning symptoms.

Activated charcoal for dogs will become less effective if administered too late since the toxin is already absorbed in the body.

Administering Activated Charcoal to Dogs

"activated How do vets give dogs activated charcoal? The vets usually administer activated charcoal for dog poisoning after inducing vomiting.

Here are some of the most common ways to give dogs activated charcoal:

  • Activated charcoal powder for dogs can be mixed with a small amount of dog food to make it enticing. The same can be done for the suspension type of activated charcoal.
  • Activated charcoal tablets for dogs can be hidden inside treats like cheese to prevent your dog from refusing to eat them. Or gently place the tablet on the rear of his mouth for him to swallow.
  • Activated charcoal administration using a syringe is done with caution as it risks aspiration. When using this method, the dog’s head should be positioned at a level position.

    Tilting his head upward must be avoided since he might accidentally breathe in the activated charcoal into his lungs, which can result in pneumonia.

  • If a dog refuses to ingest activated charcoal, the vet will sedate him and use a stomach tube to administer the treatment.

All of the 3 options can be done at home at your own discretion. However, the last method must be carried out by the vet to ensure your canine companion’s safety.

Proper Storage of Activated Charcoal for Dogs

activated charcoal in a bowl

Most activated charcoal medicine for dogs has a long shelf life when stored properly. Place them at room temperature and away from moisture, light, and heat.

Cost of Activated Charcoal for Dogs

The activated charcoal for dogs can range between $20 and $100 per bottle, depending on the brand you choose.

Severe toxicity in dogs may require you to spend more since more activated charcoal will be needed. The same applies if your dog is a large breed.

FAQs About Charcoal for Dogs

1. Does Charcoal for Dogs Interact with Medications?

Yes, charcoal for dogs can interact with certain medications. Its ability to bind with compounds can reduce the efficacy of some drugs.

Make sure to give the vet a heads-up if your dog is currently under any medication. This way they can provide an appropriate activated charcoal dosing schedule for your pet.

2. Where to Buy Activated Charcoal for Dogs

You can get activated charcoal over the counter from pet stores and online, such as Carbodote for dogs.

However, they are not as effective as those with prescription formulations, which can be purchased at your local pet pharmacy.

3. How Long Does It Take for Activated Charcoal to Work in Dogs?

It takes around 30 to 60 minutes for activated charcoal to work in dogs. It can last for 4 to 6 hours, but in some cases, it may remain in his system for up to 12 hours.

The ingested activated charcoal will get excreted from his body via feces later on.

4. How Often Can Activated Charcoal Be Given to Dogs?

Activated charcoal can be given to dogs in repeated doses at 4- to 6-hour intervals. However, during these periods, only administer half the original dose.


Activated charcoal for dogs helps address poisoning caused by certain kinds of toxic substances. It binds with these chemicals, slowing down their absorption into the body.

However, activated charcoal is ineffective for some types of toxins. So, do not give it to your canine companion without informing the vet.

Administering it should be done with care to prevent dangerous accidents like aspiration pneumonia.

Not all medications are safe for dogs. Head to our Medicine and Supplements section to know what types of drugs should never be administered to your pooch.