Why do dogs eat coal?

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Whether it’s ash from the fireplace or the remains of charcoal from the barbecue you may sometimes find that your dog takes a liking to these remains and you may wonder just what he is doing by eating coal.

Dogs will eat coal for a few reasons, the main one being that it probably has some food residue on it that he can smell and it smells good. Dogs will try anything that has a good food smell. Another reason for coal munching is that it can help to clean teeth and also help to relieve an upset stomach if he has eaten something that has disagreed with him.

What happens if a dog eats coal?

It’s not a great idea to let your dog eat coal or charcoal but neither will do him a great deal of harm unless he eats large amounts.

The most likely result is that he will be sick and you’ll need to be ready for this as it will be a big, black mess.

If your dog has swallowed lumps of coal or briquettes then you’ll need to contact your vet for advice as these will not digest and could cause an internal blockage if not treated properly.

Is it okay for a dog to eat coal?

Not really, coal can contain a wide range of toxins that can be harmful to your pet.

Your dog should not be allowed to eat coal or ash from either the fireplace or the barbecue.

why do dogs eat coal

What should I do if my dog eats coal?

If your dog does eat coal then you should consider the following:

Remove any remaining coal from the area and make sure that it is well out of the reach of your dog and other animals.

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Give your dog some water and call the vet to get their advice. Don’t give your dog anything to eat.

Try to work out how much coal your dog has eaten. Was it a small piece? Ashes? or several lumps that could cause problems?

If your dog has swallowed lumps of coal then you need to call your vet. You’ll need to have an idea of the amount eaten, the type of coal – was it charcoal or household coal for example?

Your vet will be able to advise you as to the best course of action and may ask that you take your dog to the surgery for an examination.

Monitor your dog’s behaviour. You will need to keep a close eye on your dog for a couple of days looking out for any signs of vomiting, constipation, poor appetite and stomach pain.

When you take him out check for any signs of coal in his poo – if you see it then you know that it is ‘passing through’.

What are the symptoms of a dog eating coal?

Black vomit and black stools (or what appears to be blood in the stool)

Loss of appetite Pain and discomfort

Depending on how much your dog has eaten or how many different types of coal he is eating then other problems may also arise such as diarrhea, constipation and dehydration.

There is a risk of choking

Whenever your dog picks up an object there is always the potential risk of choking.

With something like coal, which can easily break into smaller pieces, this risk is increased as the coal can disintegrate inside your dog’s mouth.

As a pet owner, it is always a good idea to develop a basic understanding of dog first aid so that, in the event of a problem, you can intervene to help your pet.

You should also try to keep the coal bucket out of reach.

What are the treatments for a dog eating coal?

If your dog appears to be well apart from eating coal then you may not need any treatment. You can simply continue to monitor him and offer him plenty of water.

Your vet may ask that you bring your dog in for an examination but depending on what is found they may advise no treatment is necessary.

If your dog is sick then you’ll need to clean this up and offer him a drink of water. If he isn’t sick then you should take this opportunity to get some fresh water into him.

Your vet may prescribe medication for any vomiting, diarrhea or pain and discomfort caused by eating coal.

They may suggest special food in the form of an easily digestible diet or something bland.

If there is any blockage in the bowel or stomach then your vet will need to remove this via surgery. They may also give you medication to help get things moving again.

What if my dog eats charcoal?

Charcoal is very different from traditional coal in that it is a form of burned wood.

Although it is not ideal for your dog to consume charcoal it is less risky than the usual coal that is mined from the ground.

Due to it’s use on barbecues, there is a likelihood that your dog will be attracted to charcoal ‘coals’ as they can become tainted with sauces and other tasty items from the cooking process – so you should keep the barbecue well away from your pet.

As an aside, a form of charcoal is often used as a medical solution, for both dogs and humans, to help deal with problems that occur from things such as food poisoning.

So, although you should keep charcoal away from your dog, the consequences of eating it are less severe than with normal coal.

Final Words

If your dog has eaten coal then you’ll need to monitor him carefully for the next few days.

You’ll also need to contact your vet if there are any problems – they will be able to help and give you advice on how to treat any diarrhea, vomiting or pain.

If the problem is not treated properly it could cause further issues such as dehydration, poisoning or even a bowel obstruction.

Remember – your vet is the best person to speak to for advice and you should always contact them if you have any health concerns about any of your dogs or other pets.

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