Idea Exchange: Ice cream makes charcoal administration a treat

Jan 01, 2006
By staff

Ice cream makes charcoal administration a treat

Administering oral activated charcoal (ToxiBan—Vet-A-Mix) to a 120-lb dog that doesn't want it can be difficult. So I mix a quart of vanilla ice cream with each bottle of charcoal. Dogs are usually happy to eat this mixture, and I don't end up looking like a chimney sweep.
Dr. Shirley S. Koshi
New York City, N.Y.

Reviewer's comments: Palatability of activated charcoal preparations can make administration difficult. One in vitro study evaluated the effect of ice cream and a food mixture on the adsorption capacity of activated charcoal, as measured by acetaminophen adsorption. 1 Ice cream increased the palatability of the activated charcoal but also reduced the adsorption capacity. However, the reduction of adsorption capacity was overcome by giving a greater dose of charcoal. Activated charcoal with a higher surface area had less reduction in adsorption capacity than charcoal with a lower surface area. 1

Activated charcoal can be mixed with ice cream, and I recommend that the charcoal dose be increased if ice cream is mixed with it. Also, I advise using a charcoal slurry preparation with a high surface area (1,000 m 2 /g).


1. Hoegberg LC, Angelo HR, Christophersen AB, et al. The effect of food and ice cream on the adsorption capacity of paracetamol to high surface activated charcoal: in vitro studies. Pharmacol Toxicol 2003;93:233-237.