is activated charcoal really safe?

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.

Jessica CGC

Will work for- food
Barked: Mon Dec 14, '09 8:13am PST 
I've read a few times on the raw forum to treat minor stomach upsets like gas or diarrhea with charcoal. I keep thinking activated charcoal can not be safe and good to give our dogs, yet I know it's sometimes used when people have toxic livers and in China it's practiced regularly to well prevent a smell coming from the body. But is it really safe to give dogs over the counter?

Can I lick the- plate please?
Barked: Mon Dec 14, '09 11:07am PST 
Bump smile

All that lives- is holy.
Barked: Mon Dec 14, '09 2:53pm PST 
I've been given active charcoal twice (Gir's mom, not Gir), but I wouldn't give it without a doctor's supervision. wink

Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Mon Dec 14, '09 7:15pm PST 
Hey Jessica,
Using activated charcoal for minor upset stomachs is not safe IMHO. Activated charcoal is exclusevily used in vet medicine to protect the body from absorbing toxins (usually toxin things that have been eaten like mushrooms, drugs both rx and other, etc). There are two different types of charcoal: With sorbitol or without. Sorbitol is an additive that helps "flush the system" or basically make the GI system speed up which usually causes diarrhea but can also cause vomiting. This is why it seems silly to give it for minor upset stomachs.
Here is a link charcoal

I would never give with out a veterinarian instruction or direction. One really dangerous thing we sometimes see is aspiration while trying to administer which can cause some pretty nasty lung damage. Often at the animal hospital we will try to mix it with food to get the pet to eat it...the idea being that if they were interested enough to eat the toxic thing they must want to eat some food too. Hoever a note to keep in mind giving activated charcoal with a high fat food makes it not work!

Edited by author Mon Dec 14, '09 7:19pm PST

Jessica CGC

Will work for- food
Barked: Mon Dec 14, '09 8:34pm PST 
Thanks for the bump Sophiehug

Gir and Leah- thank you so much. I am going to show this thread to someone who recommends using charcoal on the raw forum again.
Tanuk CGC

Sherpa Tanuk of- Everest
Barked: Tue Dec 15, '09 6:41pm PST 
I'm gonna guess charcoal is okay since one of the flavors in our Old Mother Hubbard treat variety pack is charcoal! shrug
Hoover SDIT

you call this- work?!
Barked: Tue Dec 15, '09 11:23pm PST 
Yes I don't know much about this, and in some cases (such as poisoning) I think that using activated charcoal would maybe be SAFER than not using it, but I wouldn't call it necessarily safe. I worked as a vet tech for a while, and once while one of the vets was working late (with me) her husband called panicking that one of her pups had gotten into something poisonous (can't remember right now what it was) and he brought her in. The vet gave the dog charcoal as a last resort. Unfortunately, the dog didn't make it (probably not due to the charcoal or poisoning alone; the dog was REALLY old and had a myriad of other health problems) but she did use the charcoal to help keep the dog from absorbing the toxins as mentioned above. I would be scared to ever use it without consulting a vet first.

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Barked: Tue Dec 15, '09 11:43pm PST 
Activated charcoal is completely safe and a very good supplement. I've used it for years with my dogs and have never had one problem. It works very well if your dog eats something that he should not, like out of the garbage, "people food" or whatever else. I used it the time Alex got in to chocolate and it really did help. It also relieves gas, gets rid of any fungus, virus, or bacteria (bad, not good) inside the system. It also helps with any sort of food poisoning (like from spoiled meat). Regular high doses will lower your dog's cholesterol level and help him/her loose weight. It is all safe and all natural. When I have a female that needs help loosing weight after birthing, or any dog that is overweight, or just having stomach issues, I will mix in two tablespoons of activated charcoal with a pound of ground meat and it does wonders! big grin
Jessica CGC

Will work for- food
Barked: Wed Dec 16, '09 8:30am PST 
I have read bad things about charcoal causing lung problems from even from just ingesting.

I think it plays an important role for poisons, but I wouldn't say it's safe to use as a routine supplement for no reason.