Activated Carbon: Bogus or Bonus?

Find out if feeding activated carbon supplements can help improve your horse’s health, and if there are any risks associated with feeding them.

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By: Ali Miletic, DVM |

Activated carbon – a form of highly absorbent, processed carbon – is touted to absorb toxins in the equine digestive tract. However, as this Horse Sport article reveals, there is little evidence supporting these claims, and the substance may be harmful.

While activated carbon is used to absorb harmful chemicals ingested by dogs and has been shown to absorb a number of pharmaceuticals, there is no substantial evidence that it can absorb natural toxins. In one study on pigs, subjects that received carbon ended up worse off than controls.

Problematic side-effects may also arise that could put your horse at risk. Activated carbon can cause impaction colic, and it may also absorb important enzymes in the gut that your horse needs for proper digestion of feed and absorption of nutrients. Activated carbon has not been adequately tested for safety or efficacy in horses, so use with caution.

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