Activated Charcoal for Pets

Oct 11, 2017

Activated Charcoal for Pets

If you have a dog or cat in your home, activated charcoal powder is one of the most important natural remedies to have on hand. Charcoal is useful for many conditions and is invaluable in a number of pet emergencies like vaccine reactions and snake bites. Charcoal can be used to treat Parvo, vaccine reactions and accidental poisoning. Because emergencies are never planned, having activated charcoal stored in your kitchen cabinet and ready for use is prudent.

Pet Emergencies and Activated Charcoal


Parvo is a very serious virus common in puppies. It causes diarrhea, which can quickly lead to dehydration and even death. Activated charcoal is one of the key ingredients in treating parvo.

Vaccine Reactions

Dogs and cats are often subject to a number of vaccines. Charcoal, used internally or externally can help alleviate symptoms of a vaccine reaction.


Like human children, four legged children can get into substances they ought not. Activated charcoal powder can be used to neutralize a number of poisons.


Diarrhea in pets in miserable for the pet and oftentimes messy for the pet owners. Activated charcoal works well to stop diarrhea in pets.


Bites from insects, snakes and other animals can cause swelling and infection. Activated charcoal is used as a poultice to draw out poison and infection.

When you are dealing with a serious situation (severe diarrhea, a vaccine reaction or a bite from a poisonous snake) the faster you can begin charcoal treatment the better. See the dosing chart below for amounts to give your pet.

What Kind of Activated Charcoal Should I Give my Pet?

Activated charcoal is available in capsule, tablet and powder form. Any or all of these can be used for your pet. Tablets are easy to hide in food. Powdered charcoal can be added to water and given by syringe. Capsules are the least convenient but often the easiest to find. Capsules may not work for diarrhea because the capsule can pass through the system undigested. If all you can find, however, is capsules, you can easily empty the powder out and add it to food or liquid. (Easy to do, but messy, so take care!)

Where Can I Buy Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal can usually be found the pharmacy section of your local grocery store in the form of tablets or powder. All pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens will have activated charcoal. Health food stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts will carry a few different types of activated charcoal. You can also buy activated charcoal in bulk online at Amazon.

How Much Activated Charcoal Should I Give My Dog or Cat?

Under 5 pounds 1/32 teaspoon (about 1/4 tablet or capsule)
5 - 12 pounds 1/16 teaspoon (about 1/2 tablet or capsule)
12 - 25 pounds 1/4 teaspoon (about 1 tablet or capsule)
25 - 50 pounds 1/2 teaspoon (about 2 tablets or capsules)
50 -100 pounds 3/4 teaspoon (about 3 tablets or capsules)
100 -150 pounds 1 teaspoon  (about 4 tablets or capsules)
Over 150 pounds 2 teaspoons (about 8 tablets or capsules)

If your pet is so sick that you must feed him with a syringe, you can use the following guidelines:

  • Add 4 tablespoons of activated charcoal powder to one cup of water or electrolyte solution (Electrolyte solution is especially helpful for Parvo or diarrhea) With this solution, every 5 cc (5 ml) will contain 1/4 teaspoon of activated charcoal.

How Often Should I Give Activated Charcoal to My Dog or Cat?

The frequency of the dose will be dependent upon the condition you are treating and the severity of it. In general, it is better to give more charcoal than less. Charcoal passes through the system. The only risk of charcoal is that it can be constipating, so plenty of water needs to be available to your pet. Adding a pinch of salt per cup of water will encourage your pet to drink more. Charcoal also can neutralize medications. If your pet is on any medications, do not give charcoal within 2 hours of giving the medication.


If your pet has severe diarrhea, charcoal should be given every 2 hours, or after each incidence of diarrhea. For mild loose stools, charcoal can be given a couple of times a day.


For poisoning, initially give a double dose of charcoal for your pet's weight. The dose can be repeated every four hours or as needed.

How Do I Get My Pet to Take Activated Charcoal?


Charcoal tablets or capsules can be hidden in food like a piece of cheese, a clump of rice or bit of meat. Powder can be mixed with some peanut butter or a soft cheese.


Cats will need to have tablets crushed or capsules emptied. Mix the resulting powder into tuna fish or your cat's regular food. Charcoal is tasteless. If you cat is suspicious of the color of the food, try keeping the lights low when you feed him.

For animals that are too sick to take solid food, mix charcoal with water and give it by syringe.

Charcoal Poultices for Pets

Charcoal can be used externally as a poultice on your pet. It can help to relieve pain and inflammation.

How to Make A Charcoal Poultice for Your Pet

  • Mix together 2 tablespoons of charcoal powder with 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed or cornstarch.
  • Add 6 tablespoons of water. Stir. Wait 5 minutes. Stir again.
  • Spread the charcoal paste onto a paper towel or piece of clean sheet or t-shirt. Fold edges around so that the charcoal is contained in a sort of envelope. Apply the poultice to the inflamed area, be it a bite, sting, vaccine site etc. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the poultice. Use cohesive tape to attach the poultice to your pet. If you use enough cohesive tape, your pet will probably not be able to remove his bandage. 
  • Change the poultice twice a day.

If you need a visual, see this video from Earth Clinic's Mama to Many on making a charcoal poultice.

Have you used activated charcoal for your dog or cat? We would love to hear about it!

Activated Charcoal Dosage  

Posted by Janice (Fl) on 05/06/2017

How much activated charcoal can I give my 10.5 lb Jack Rusell terrier? And how do I administer?
Mix with water and give by small syringe orally? My holistic vet recommended I give it to her because she has mucousy, slightly blood tinged tinged stool and she texted this link to me when I asked her the questions above. Ty!

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Janice,

You can give 1 capsule wrapped in a bit of cream cheese to your JRT twice a day/with each meal.

Upset Stomach in Dogs  

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Posted by Jo-ann ( Landisville, New Jersey) on 10/11/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I have given my dogs an activated charcoal capsule at times when their stomach seems to be upset and I don't know if they've eaten something they shouldn't have along with a ginger capsule. It seems to help most of the time.