Activated Charcoal for Pets: Emergency Uses, Dosage & Benefits

| Modified on Mar 31, 2024
Activated Charcoal for Pets

Activated charcoal powder offers numerous benefits for pet health, making it a must-have in households with beloved dogs and cats. This natural solution is highly effective in managing various pet health crises, including reactions to vaccines, snake and insect bites, and severe conditions like Parvovirus or accidental toxin ingestion.

Its versatility in treating a wide range of issues makes activated charcoal an invaluable addition to any pet owner's toolkit. To ensure readiness for any emergency, it's wise to keep activated charcoal readily available, ideally in a convenient location such as a kitchen cabinet.

Activated Charcoal: A Lifesaver in Pet Emergencies


Often referred to as Parvo, this highly contagious virus primarily affects puppies, causing severe diarrhea that can lead to rapid dehydration and, in severe cases, may be fatal. Using activated charcoal as part of the treatment plan can significantly aid in combating Parvo, proving essential for protecting your pet's health. Click here to learn more about activated charcoal for parvo.

Vaccine Reactions

Activated charcoal can be a powerful tool when pets react adversely to vaccines. It can be administered internally or externally to alleviate symptoms and comfort our four-legged friends.

Accidental Poisoning

Pets can accidentally consume harmful substances. In such instances, activated charcoal is key in neutralizing toxins, thus serving as a safety net for our furry friends.

Managing Diarrhea

Activated charcoal can effectively halt uncomfortable bouts of diarrhea in pets, relieving both the pet and owner from this distressing condition.

Addressing Animal and Insect Bites

Pets may encounter insects, snakes, and other creatures that can bite, causing swelling and potential infections. Applied as a poultice, activated charcoal can draw out toxins and reduce the risk of infection, aiding in faster recovery.

Immediate intervention with activated charcoal is critical in severe situations such as intense diarrhea, adverse vaccine reactions, or poisonous snake bites. Consult the dosage chart below to administer the correct amount of activated charcoal for your pet's weight.

Selecting the Appropriate Activated Charcoal for Your Pet

When choosing the proper form of activated charcoal for your pet, it's essential to consider your animal's specific needs and circumstances. Activated charcoal comes in various forms: capsules, tablets, and powder, each with its own advantages for pet treatment.

  1. Tablets: These are a convenient option, especially for pets that are cooperative with oral medications. Tablets can be easily hidden in food, making them a discreet and stress-free way to administer activated charcoal. They are particularly useful for straightforward treatments where precision in dosage is not as critical.
  2. Powder: This form is highly versatile and can be adapted to different dosages easily. Powdered charcoal can be mixed with water to create a slurry, which can then be given to your pet using a syringe. This method is particularly effective for urgent treatment as it allows for quick absorption. The powder form is also beneficial for treating conditions like diarrhea, as it has a larger surface area and is more likely to stay in the digestive system for effective treatment.
  3. Capsules: While capsules are often the most readily available form of activated charcoal, they may not always be the best choice, especially for treating gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea. The capsule's coating might prevent the timely release of the charcoal, reducing its effectiveness. However, in cases where capsules are the only option, you can open them and use the powder inside. This method allows for more flexible dosing and can be mixed into your pet’s food or a liquid. Caution is advised when handling the powder, as it can be quite messy and may stain surfaces.

Purchasing Activated Charcoal: Where to Find It

You can typically find activated charcoal in the pharmacy section of your local supermarket, in tablet or powder form. Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens carry activated charcoal, and health food stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts offer various options. For bulk purchases, consider online marketplaces like Amazon.

Determining the Correct Activated Charcoal Dosage for Your 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)

Critically Ill Pets Dosing

If your pet is critically ill and needs to be fed via a syringe, add 4 tablespoons of activated charcoal powder to one cup of water or electrolyte solution (particularly beneficial for Parvo or diarrhea). In this prepared solution, every 5 cc (5 ml) will contain 1/4 teaspoon of activated charcoal.

Frequency of Activated Charcoal Administration for Your Dog or Cat

The frequency of administration depends on the specific condition and its severity. As a rule of thumb, it's generally safer to provide more charcoal rather than less. However, do note that activated charcoal can cause constipation, so ensure your pet has ample access to water.

Administering Activated Charcoal to Your Pet

For Dogs: Hide charcoal tablets or capsules in food like cheese, rice, or meat. You can also use Pill Pockets. Powdered charcoal can be mixed with foods like peanut butter or soft cheese.

For Cats: Crush tablets or empty capsules and mix the powder into wet food like tuna fish.

For pets too ill to ingest solid food, mix charcoal with water and administer it via a baby syringe.

Using Charcoal Poultices for Pets

Externally applied charcoal poultices can help alleviate pain and inflammation.

Preparing a Charcoal Poultice for Your Pet

  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of charcoal powder with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed or cornstarch.
  2. Add 6 tablespoons of water. Stir and wait for 5 minutes before stirring again.
  3. Spread the charcoal paste onto a clean paper towel, cloth, or piece of t-shirt, folding the edges to contain the charcoal.
  4. Apply this poultice to the inflamed area, such as a bite or vaccine site, and cover with plastic wrap.
  5. Use cohesive tape to secure the poultice, and replace it twice a day.

For a visual guide, refer to this video from Earth Clinic's Mama to Many on crafting a charcoal poultice.

Continue reading below for feedback from Earth Clinic readers on the use of activated charcoal in their dogs and cats. Have you used activated charcoal for your dog or cat? We would love to hear about it!

Related Links:

Diarrhea Remedies for Pets
Natural Parvo Treatment for Dogs
Removing Ticks on Dogs and Cats: Tick Bite Remedies
Side Effects of Pet Vaccines: A Closer Look
Treating Side Effects of Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

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

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

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.

Replied by Pam E.
(SouthWestern California)
140 posts

"Mucousy, slightly blood tinged tinged stool" sounds alot like Giardia. When my dogs got that, they refused to swallow any treats with the prescribed medicine, so I looked up online & discovered I had 3 natural things at home, each one known to kill Giardia. So I began giving them a doses of all 3,2x daily, along with an extra meal to put their weight back on with ... and they were free of symptoms right away, & back to full weight by the week's end! (Our 70 lb. Rottie had lost 10 lbs.)

Pam E.
(SW California)
140 posts

I forgot to list the 3 natural remedies I used,

purchased only from quality sources! :

Organic Virgin Coconut Oil;

Liquid GrapeFruit Seed Extract;

MSM / MethylSulfonylMethane powder.

Using just one of those may work fine, but I had all 3 already, so used each of them together in their food.


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Kay (Redstone, Colorado) on 03/06/2024

Activated charcoal given with food

I am presently giving my Aussie activated charcoal with her food to absorb histamines so I don't have to give her drugs from the vet. This is working and helping to eliminate her itching. I prefer to give the charcoal in her food rather than her water bowl because she gets it in her rather than some separated charcoal in the bottom of her water bowl. However, does giving a dog the charcoal regularly (every day both meals) absorb the nutrients in the food or is this sustainable? Thank you.


2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Maggie (Id) on 04/22/2018 36 posts

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.

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

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.

Kidney Disease

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by I Kennedy (Usa) on 11/18/2017

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.

7 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

Replied by Ruth
(New Mexico)

Just wondering if you have anymore to add as time has passed? One question I do have is do you wait a half an hour of so before and after eating so there is nothing in their stomach? Can anyone advise.

I bought charcoal for my kitty and hoping taking it will aid her. She eats it with some tuna.


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Dalsan (Aloha, Or Usa) on 01/02/2012

I wanted to pass on something mentioned on Curezone that can help those using Ted's mange cure on cats or pets that lick themselves repeatedly.

My cat has a sacroptic mange re-infection and I'm again treating her with Ted's cure.

The very first time I bathed Kat with the borax/ peroxide mix I kept her in my warmed up bathroom and sat with her until she was almost dry. I didn't have a collar to keep her from licking, so I tried to keep her distracted. She still licked enough off to end up vomiting. The thought of doing this again several times made me heartsick.

I was reading up sometime later when someone mentioned Activated Charcoal. It's what they use in hospitals to adsorb (not absorb) poisons that have been ingested. It's saved many a life- yet is very inexpensive and available over the counter at most health food stores.

Most households that have kids- have AC in their medicine cabinet- just in case. I even had some on hand - but had long forgotten about it.

Anyway, just before the next bath I mixed a 1/2 tsp. of the AC powder into 1/2 oz of water and put some into a 1. 0mm syringe then squirted the syringe-full into Kat's mouth. Her eyes got big- she expected it to taste bad like her other meds I guess- but there's no taste to it and she didn't mind it at all.

The second bath was a bit more of a struggle- she Hates baths- but this time she didn't get sick, nor the 3rd one either.

Now the family uses it regularly again for an upset stomach and/or occasional diarrhea and I'm going to use it as part of a colon cleanse. It works fast and is virtually non-toxic.

Unfortunately, most stores only sell Activated Charcoal in capsules now. But in a pinch you can open one or two and get the powder that way (I couldn't get the tiniest capsule down my Kat on a bet. LOL)

We prefer to keep the powder on hand- it's way cheaper in the long run- and there are so many other ways to use it. The cheapest site I've found sells a 10oz can for under $12 shipped that will last us for several months.

Hope those with mange cats will give the AC a try.