Why Does My Dog Eat Charcoal? Is It Bad For Them?

The reason dogs eat charcoal is because of curiosity. One of the ways dogs explore the world is through taste. If they see charcoal on the ground, they’ll taste it to figure out what it is. Another reason your dog may eat charcoal is because used charcoal is covered in meat juice.

There’s nothing more enjoyable than getting your family and friends together for a backyard BBQ during a warm summer day. But while your family and friends may enjoy the comforts of a nice barbeque, your dog may have found his way into the open bag of charcoal.

As discussed above, dogs eat charcoal because of curiosity…but is charcoal bad for your dog? It depends on what type of charcoal it was.

Two Types of Charcoal

There are two different types of charcoal, activated charcoal, and grilling charcoal. One is harmless for your dog, and the other is considered unsafe.

Activated charcoal has become very popular in the past few years. It’s often given to people or animals to help them deal with an upset stomach. As you likely guessed by now, this is the charcoal that’s considered safe. It binds itself to harmful toxins in the body and prevents them from seeping into vital organs like the liver.

The alternative, less safe charcoal, is grilling charcoal. This is the charcoal that gets doused in grilling fluid. Grilling charcoal can be harmful to your dog, so it’s best to keep it away from your dog.

There’s also the possibility that the charcoal could get lodged in your dog’s intestinal wall and cause a blockage, making digestion very uncomfortable for your pup.

While the likelihood of your dog dying from ingesting grilling charcoal is minimal, there’s still a risk that your dog could get very sick.

Grilling Tools Have Charcoal On Them

While eating charcoal from a bag (or the trash) is the most apparent red flag, there are other ways that a dog could ingest charcoal that you may not think about.

Your grilling accessories can become an indirect access point to charcoal. If the grilling accessories, like a grilling brush, aren’t properly cleaned after use, your pup could end up ingesting charcoal if they chew on the brush.

Because grilling tools have charcoal residue on them, it’s recommended to store them in a safe place your dog can’t reach.

Keeping Your Dog Safe From Grilling Charcoal

As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog safe from potential harm.

Here are a few simple things you can do to keep your dog safe from charcoal.

Store Your Charcoal Above Ground

To keep your dog from sniffing his way into a bag of charcoal, be sure to store the charcoal in a place that’s difficult for your dog to access. It could be as simple as putting it in a cabinet or on a storage shelf your dog can’t reach.

Keep Your Dog Away From The Grill

This one is straightforward, but it’s also important. If your dog is too close to the grilling action, he’s at risk of consuming the harmful charcoal.

Not only is it a good idea to keep your dog at least three feet away, but it’s also important to keep him at a safe distance from the flames.

Clean The Grilling Tools

As soon as you finish grilling, wash your grilling tools thoroughly so that your dog won’t be at risk for ingesting the charcoal residue on the tools.

Keep The Tools Out of Reach

This is similar to storing the charcoal in an area out of reach from your dog. If possible, store the tools in a separate cabinet. This will ensure your dog doesn’t get into something he’s not supposed to be in.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Charcoal?

If your dog ate charcoal, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, be sure to give your dog plenty of fluid. This will help flush the harmful toxins out of their system.

Next, you’ll want to monitor for any signs of stomach irritation. This is something you’ll want to pay close attention to, especially since eating charcoal can have a significant impact on your dog’s digestive system.

One last tip is to tweak your dog’s diet to have him consume bland food. You’ll want to avoid any wet, oily, or canned dog food because they can further irritate the stomach. Once you’ve adjusted his diet, watch for vomiting or diarrhea.

If you notice signs of illness after taking those three steps, contact your vet ASAP. If he’s experiencing any vomiting or diarrhea, there may be a more significant issue at play.

The vet will be more than capable of helping your dog get through the pain and discomfort they may have from ingesting charcoal.

Your vet should give you simple instructions to help relieve your dog, or they may ask that you bring your dog in for observation. Either way, your vet knows what’s best, so heed their recommendations.

Recommended For You