If you are blessed with a furball of absolute energy and zeal for life, who manages to get their paws and tongues all up everywhere, even where they are not supposed to, ESPECIALLY where they are not supposed to, you know you are in for a world of careful watchkeeping over them.
If you are an avid BBQer or camper, and you like to have your dog with you in those situations, your dog may or may not have been curious to lick off the utensils that are smelling all kinds of ways to him, or get his mouth on to things as seemingly mundane as charcoal pieces or even, the nastier, lighter fluid, orrrr, the trifecta – charcoal WITH lighter fluid infused in there.
Yup. You are not alone.
Dogs are incredibly curious and they wander off to do things that are better left undone, but against our better judgment, sometimes purposely hiding from us, even. They manage to get things done and end up hurting themselves.
Is charcoal safe for dogs though?
It’s not really a straightforward answer. Charcoal PROBABLY is safe for your dog but with several caveats that we will now explore…
What Does Charcoal Do To My Dog?
Most likely not too much, if we are being honest. In most cases, if your dog has ingested small pieces of charcoal, he should be okay for the most part. He might experience just some upset stomach, vomiting, or both.
On the other hand, a much worse situation could arise if your dog manages to even lick or inhale charcoal infused with lighter fluid, or any petroleum products. These have toxins that can lead to things much worse than an upset stomach.
Not to mention what would happen if your dog managed to gulp down a bigger piece of charcoal which could cause intestinal blockage.
Take them to the vet right away and tell them everything you know. The amount of charcoal ingested, the size, if any liquid was swallowed or licked. Do not try home remedies or sleeping it off.
How Do I Keep My Dog Away From Charcoal?
You keep the charcoal away from the dog.
While charcoal is not a fatal poison, it must nevertheless be kept out of the reach of your dog.
If you are grilling in the vicinity of your dog, ensure plastics of any and all kinds, aluminium foils, utensils used that might be covered in lighter fluid, are kept well away from the reach of your inquisitive furry best friend. (Children, too, for that matter.)
Keep your grill at a level your dog can in no way reach. This helps keep them safe from burns, injuries, and perhaps stinging eyes due to the smoke.
There are simple precautions that can be taken beforehand that can save you and your dog from a world of unnecessary pain and trouble. Try to wash your grilling tools as soon as you are done, no dirty tools means no chance of ingesting harmful, toxic chemicals for your beloved pet.
Also, store the bag of charcoal in a not-so-easy to reach place. DO NOT leave it lying around on the ground in the heat of things. You might be preoccupied with something or the other while your dog sees this as the perfect opportunity to be adventurous.
Upon ingestion of charcoal…
Do not fret. If you are positive your dog hasn’t had too much charcoal, you can just monitor him and his condition if he displays signs of illness.
As a preventative measure you can also:
Ensure he is well hydrated as this can help flush the toxins out.
Reduce the flavour in his diet. A blander diet could help prevent the trigger to an upset stomach. Try to avoid greasy, canned food and flavoured dog treats.
Watch out for vomiting or diarrhoea. If your dog seems uncomfortable and not his usual self, try taking him out for a walk (preferably on a leash), and see what becomes of his bowel movements. It should be clear enough if he has an irritated stomach.
If your dog does not eat or drink as per usual, call the vet. If your regular vet is not available, you should inform them about the breed, age, weight and sex of your dog. oh, and the amount of charcoal they might have ingested, and the type of charcoal is important too. Depending upon these factors, your vet might suggest some options of treatment or observation.
If your vet thinks it is appropriate to have to bring your dog in, do not hesitate. It might be a bigger problem than you anticipated earlier, especially if a big chunk of charcoal has been ingested and gotten stuck.
How Do Vets Treat Charcoal Ingestion?
Induced vomiting is one of the options that the vet might suggest you go through. Under strict veterinary guidance only, is this procedure even remotely safe. It is not without the risks of getting the charcoal stuck in the throat or the oesophagus.
A safer way might be to just let them pass it out naturally. However, that might be harder and surgery might be a viable option upon running tests like x-rays and seeing for symptoms of blockage.
Is Activated Charcoal Okay For Dogs?
Activated charcoal, to some extent, is suggested as a medicine or a treatment if your dog has been poisoned or perhaps eaten some human food that he shouldn’t have. Remember it’s called dog food for a reason, keep to your dog’s diet and you can’t go far wrong!
Charcoal is wood that is not completely burnt and has impurities. Activated charcoal is a further refined product of charcoal itself. Impurities are removed and there is a huge surface area for pores to suck in any toxins.
This is what ideally makes activated charcoal great for absorbing toxins that might be poisoning your dog’s stomach. However, it is not recommended to treat things such as poisoning at home. Charcoal of any kind should not be given on purpose.
We certainly don’t advise giving your dog a lump of regular charcoal as a treat or for your own entertainment. While he’d probably be okay with it, it’s not normal is it?
Activated charcoal on the other hand can and is used for treatment purposes but should only be done so upon the advise of your vet.