Activated Charcoal for Pets

| Modified on Mar 21, 2021
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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 and Meds

Posted by Jill (Texas) on 12/15/2017

How does using activated charcoal for diarrhea/ bad gas effect the use of heart guard and nexguard respectively if it were to be given at some point after treatment, but allowing at least a day for digestion and absorption of the medication?

Replied by Mama To Many

Hmm. That is a good question.

I have not considered the effect on a slow release medicine. I would be concerned that it would remove the medication though even if you wait a day or more.

Could you try turmeric for diarrhea instead? Apple cider vinegar may help the gas.

~Mama to Many~

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.

Activated Charcoal in Dogs

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Maggie (Id) on 04/22/2018 36 posts
5 out of 5 stars

I give my dogs activated charcoal when they have an upset stomach. The upset stomach is usually from eating something out in the yard. Activated charcoal has always helped. One capsule is all it takes. I get them to drink water by mixing some canned food with plenty of water, more water than food.

Kidney Disease

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by I Kennedy (Usa) on 11/18/2017
5 out of 5 stars

Responding to a post about cat with polycystic kidney disease...

ANY ONE that has kidney disease should be taking CHARCOAL. My 15 year old kitty (after coming home from the vet) gets a half a capsule of activated charcoal once a day in a spoonful or 2 of NON grain wet cat food (blue or abound for her) with a slippery elm/water mixture in all her food) to put mucus in her bowels, and about an eighth teaspoon of wheatgrass in one of her feedings. You don't want to mix charcoal with medicines or a lot of cat food, as it will be wasted; charcoal is famous for ridding the body of poisons, and along with filtering the toxins the kidneys are unable to handle, it will also "absorb" medicines/nutrition in the cat food. It is well worth sacrificing a spoon or two of cat food to mix the charcoal with, and she doesn't notice the taste AT ALL.

A month or so later she has almost regained her weight, grazes all day long like a pony on her food, eating equal amounts of food, and water and acts like a mere 8 yr. old! Since I am new at this, I don't know if or when I will stop the charcoal. I get the kind in jello caps so I can use half a cap a day and put the cap back on for the next day. Just an opinion from someone who isn't trained in cat medicine, for what it's worth; Cats are true carnivores, who eat only protein (bugs, birds, reptiles, meat, and a little grass) and we wonder why an animal who isn't designed to deal with carbs and grain gets obese! Then were told by the vet to get another grain-gluten dry food with "more fiber".

You can now get at the grocery store ground up chicken/pork/turkey with no antibiotics and serve it raw or cooked. This is how I got her to loose weight 10 yrs. ago when the vet made fun of how fat she was, by giving her real meat, no carbs. If you think gluten and excess carbs are bad for you, what do you think it does to an animal not designed to digest carbs? Anyway with the slippery elm/water in all her food, the charcoal and wheatgrass once a day she is pooping/drinking normally and very happy. I think other remedies are good, and we have to try to see what does or doesn't work, but ANY ONE WITH KIDNEY DISEASE SHOULD BE TAKING CHARCOAL TO TAKE UP THE SLACK OF WEAK KIDNEYS, 101.

Again, I'm not a vet or close to it, but I know what it is to have a sick cat who we almost lost and desperate to find something that works, and charcoal is wonderful for fixing up digestion matters in humans. I'm a private person (no twitter or facebook for me)so I don't even like writing this, except that I think it is so important and got such good results, and I've not heard of adverse effects with small amounts of charcoal, so if other things haven't worked for you, try it.

Replied by Mama To Many

Dear I Kennedy,

Thank you so much for taking time to share this. I am sure it will be helpful to others. Great job!

You might find this study interesting about the use of charcoal for kidney disease (in humans)

We have used charcoal for many years. Personally, I think the protocol you have created sounds like one to continue indefinitely.

Again, great job and thanks for posting.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by I. Kennedy

P.S.: Since some people are new at this, I should of mentioned that you should mention not drink tap or distilled water, but spring water for you and your beasties. Tap water has bromide/ fluoride/chloride that is largely responsible for the low thyroid epidemic in the U.S., and distilled water, since it has zero minerals, will leech them out of your body over a period of time. My city gets fined every year for poor quality water, and it is easier/cheaper to pay the fine than to fix the problem. Now that my kitty feels like a "thunder kitten"(nick name) I'm considering giving her half a capsule every other day; I haven't decided. Sometimes you have to try different dosages, depending on size of the beastie and severity of the disease. I'm done now.

Replied by Lila

Thank you for the useful information. Do you give special k/d food to your cat? Thank you once again.


Replied by I. Kennedy

I don't use k/d food, although I wouldn't tell anyone else not to; I use about anything that doesn't have grain/gluten, which includes the antibiotic/hormone free ground turkey/pork/chicken (the stuff YOU would eat that is readily available now at the grocery store) served raw or cooked as beastie prefers, and blue or abound. I also put in a little wheatgrass (I brush my teeth with it) or spirulina. Also, something to keep kitty from constipation, slippery elm. I'm on maintenance with her now, and have changed the charcoal. Several herbs are good at taking toxins out of the body including Parsley(which I'm using), and Cilantro. Fresh parsley is easy to come by, ( the roots are much stronger, so I wouldn't recommend it, as it would take such a tiny amount that it could overdose.) A handful or more thrown in a pint and a half of boiling spring water, covered and taken off the burner is how a person takes the tea, ) you have to determine how much to put into kitty's water, but is pretty harmless. Apiol in parsley used to be used to induce labor, but would take LARGE DOSES; so maybe not for pregnant cats. Like most things, you start small (a tablespoon or 2 in a cup of water.) If I were starting out with an acute problem I would start with the charcoal. She is doing fine and doesn't seem to mind SOME parsley tea in her water. You can also make cilantro tea, but I would use the leaves, not the seeds, as it might be too strong for a wee beastie. It does remove heavy metals (from tuna, perhaps?) Bit I feel that parsley may be safer, BUT I DON'T KNOW; THIS IS ALL GUESS WORK. I'm sure you can see how to make teas on youtube. I forgot to mention that if your cat took antibiotics (mine did) you should definitely replace them with a quality probiotic for humans; I have no idea how " alive" animal probiotics are on the shelf when you buy then; and don't trust but a few human probiotics to:1 be alive sitting on the shelf :2 still be alive when they pass thru your stomach into your intestine. My cat didn't mind the charcoal, but some might find the parsley tea in the water more palatable, plus that charcoal will absorb anything (nutrition, supplements, drugs) taken with it. I hope this helps.

Replied by Kennedy

I saw people talking about chia/flax seed for constipation, but were worried about the seed stealing even more fluid out of the gut and making the constipation worse; the solution was simple; I have chia seed and I put it through the coffee grinder. I take a spoonful and stir it up with 3 spoonfuls of spring water and let it sit until it becomes jelly like. then I add wet cat food to it and also add more water to the mix (to absorb even more water, ) but not so much that the food is sitting in a pool of water. Now, the chia has absorbed as much water as it ever will BEFORE the cat eats it, and brings the water INTO the gut instead of absorbing it OUT OF the gut. You must GRIND IT UP FIRST, as you don't know what just raw seed is going to do. I HAVE NOT tried this with ground up flax seed yet. I also changed from parsley to BURDOCK ROOT TEA (I like burdock root better) and these together are working wonderfully well. I feel burdock root tea is very safe and will but a spoonful of it in her food as well as her water, and she doesn't seem to mind the taste of either burdock root tea or the jelly consistency of ground up chia, (I'm all for not having to poke things down cats throats if I don't have to, ) but it looks like she's eating twice as much (half chia/water, half wet food, ) so take that into consideration. She looks wonderful, has gained her weight back, shiny coat, and taken up playing again after about a month. Nothing like a. charcoal to get your beastie out of the woods when they're sick, but shouldn't stay on it long as it absorbs nutrition along with the poisons weak kidneys can't filter. So it's ground up chia/water, burdock root tea, and wheatgrass at least once a day for us. Burdock roots are available at Natural Grocers and I guess about any health food store, and on line.

Replied by Carrieann

Hi thank you sooo much for the confirmation!!! just gave 2 to my border collie with kidney disease. She was given antibiotics that made her so sick even though no infection was found. Her urine was dilute so she was diagnosed with kidney failure. Now she is afraid to take any food because she has tossed her cookies so much - I happened to have activated charcoal in the house for poisoning, so it dawned on me if it is used to expel toxins it might work to purify the kidneys. I checked - it works in humans so..... Again, thanks for sharing your experience.

6 posts

Carrieann, please keep us updated on your baby collie girl and her reaction to the activated charcoal. Also, it might be better if you open the capsules and add the charcoal to a liquid and then maybe feed it to her with a baby syringe that you could find at a pharmacy. It would help her not to vomit the capsules. I'm praying for everything to work out for her. Please let us know! With blessings, Molly

Upset Stomach in Dogs

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

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.