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Is Salt Bad for Dogs? A Nuanced Answer

Is Salt Bad for Dogs? A Nuanced Answer 

As pet parents, our dog’s health is our main priority. We’re always Googling “Can my dog eat…” followed by whatever snack our dogs are sadly watching us eat. However, some snacks are deceptive. While it may seem like a safe food, it could be hiding a lot of salt.

Feeding your dog an excessive amount of salty food is not good for their health. However, your dog still does need salt and sodium in their diet to keep them functioning properly. It comes down to this: Salt in moderation.

Of course, foods that your dog eats or might snack on might have sodium in them, but depending on how much you give to them, they should be in the clear. Understanding how much salt your dog needs can help to ensure you are not giving them too much of it in their diet.

This might mean cutting back on your dog’s favorite snacks and finding healthier pet food options or reading through ingredients on the label of treats before you buy them for your dog. We have put together information about salt and sodium for your dogs to put your mind at ease.

Keep reading to learn more about this nuanced question.

How Much Salt Is Safe for Dogs?

Salt in moderation is safe for dogs, but too much of it can cause issues in your pet. Your dog requires salt in their daily diet, but never in excessive quantities. So, dogs need salt in order for their cells to function.

Your dog’s body needs salt to maintain fluid balance, acid-base balance, and nerve signal transmission. Too little salt might result in a condition called hyponatremia, which can cause lethargy, vomiting, seizures, loss of appetite, and other symptoms.

In general, the recommended daily salt intake lies between 0.25g – 1.5g per 100g of food. Excess salt could also result in dehydration, frequent urination, tongue swelling, muscle spasms, and more. Keeping a fresh bowl of clean water out can help to keep your dog’s salt levels in check, as they can regulate how much is in their body by staying hydrated.

If your pooch has certain health conditions like Kidney Disease or Heart Disease, they might be on a low-sodium diet. In this case, all treats, foods, and snacks should be vetted — salt is sneaky.

Salt vs. Sodium

When you are talking about salt and sodium, you are discussing two different things. Salt refers to sodium chloride, a compound found in nature, and sodium refers to a dietary mineral found in salt. Both are electrolytes that dogs need to function.

Dogs need a certain amount of sodium, but this salt can be found in your dog’s foods and treats. Eating healthier options that include sodium is an easy way to limit the amount of salt consumed while still reaping sodium’s benefits. Lean meats like chicken or fish, fresh vegetables, and whole-grain options tend to be lower in sodium.

Can Dogs Eat Too Much Salt?

An excess amount of salt and sodium in your dog’s diet can lead to hypernatremia, which means that the sodium levels in the blood are too high. This triggers dehydration in the dog, which happens when the muscles and tissue release fluid in the body to combat the high sodium levels.

If your dog is losing too much fluid during this attack, they might suffer from full-body stiffness resulting in difficulty walking, incoordination, tremors, and seizures. In severe cases, your vet might administer IV fluids or medications, and keep your pup for monitoring.

While humans tend to love adding a small amount of salt to their meals to boost bland flavors, our dogs sadly do not get the same luxury.

All salt should come from a dog’s diet, which is carefully formulated by industry experts. By keeping an eye on the labels and figuring out how much your dog is consuming, you don’t have to worry about them eating too much.

Just remember to keep your extra salty snacks away from your furry friend and in closed-off containers to ensure they don’t make their way into them!

What Are Some Signs of Salt Poisoning?

Generally, the first signs of salt poisoning or “sodium ion poisoning” are vomiting and an insatiable thirst. They might also seem tired and a bit out of it. They will also be stiffer than normal and might look awkward as they try to move. This is due to the moisture leaving their body, trying to make up for the excess salt.

Signs of salt toxicosis are:

  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Coma
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fluid buildup
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Nausea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stomach pain
  • Tongue swelling
  • Respiratory distress
  • Diarrhea

Contributing Factors to Salt Toxicosis

As we discussed above, large amounts of salt consumption can lead to salt toxicosis. If you have an automatic fresh water dispenser for your dog, you must ensure that it’s working before leaving for any amount of time. A hand-filled dog bowl should be full. If they can’t get access to drinking water when needed, it could lead to a surplus of salt, resulting in dehydration.

Consuming rock salt, table salt, or soy sauce around the house might also lead to salt toxicity. Eating toys like play dough can also impact the sodium levels in your dog. Similarly, drinking too much ocean water can add more salt than is acceptable to the bloodstream.

What Are Some Foods With Too Much Salt?

Usually, the food that you are buying for your dog has been manufactured with the average salt intake in mind. Some human foods and household products that are likely to cause salt toxicosis if consumed in large quantities are:

  • Potato chips and fries
  • Hot dogs or other highly processed meats
  • Canned vegetables, soups, or meals
  • Pizza
  • Fast food meals
  • Pretzels
  • Table salt
  • Rock salt that’s used on icy roads

Some dog treats will also have too much salt; reading all labels could help prevent salt toxicity. Also, feeding your dog foods in moderation and not overfeeding them can help you to limit the amount of salt they intake. Anything more than the recommended amount should be avoided.

Get Answers With AskVet

Sometimes finding the answers to questions about your pet’s health requires skimming through blog after blog. You might not find the exact thing you are looking for, but with AskVet, you can get directly to the point. If you have a question about your pet’s health, AskVet is there to help.

With 24/7 around-the-clock availability, you can put your worries to ease. If you notice a change in behavior or are worried about their salt intake, you have someone to reach out to.

Right now, you can sign up for our services for just $9.99/month. Not only can you ask us all your last-minute questions, but we work to create a personalized plan for your pet so that they can stay healthy throughout their life. If you are in need of behavioral assistance, we can also help you with that!

Your pet is special and unique, and the care they need is also special and unique. No two dogs are the same, so why should their care be? Don’t hesitate, and instead get started with AskVet today!



Incidence, Severity and Prognosis Associated with Hyponatremia in Dogs and Cats | NCBI

Incidence, Severity and Prognosis Associated with Hypernatremia in Dogs and Cats | NCBI

Salt Toxicosis in Animals – Toxicology | Merck Veterinary Manual


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