Salt has been an essential component of our diet for ages. Not only does it enhances the taste of food, but also provides health benefits for the body. But does it offer the same advantages to our furry pals, or does it cause more harm than good? Is salt bad for dogs? Let’s read further and find out.
Is Salt Really Bad For Dogs?
Salt can be bad for dogs, but it can also be good for them; before gauging when it would be good or bad for your pooch. Most of us know salt as a universal food seasoning, but what is salt? Salt is a natural crystalline mineral made of a chemical compound, sodium chloride (NaCl). Salt is produced by evaporating seawater or by mining rock salt deposits. Aside from its use on food, salt is also being utilized in food preservation, cleaning, de-icing, and even in other non-dietary industries.
Salt is a good source of sodium. Table salt, for example, contains 40% sodium. Sodium is an essential element in maintaining fluid balance in the body. It’s an electrolyte that regulates the water content of the organs. Dogs’ bodies are similar to that of humans in terms of the need for electrolytes. Therefore, dogs need sodium to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. So, does that mean dogs can eat salt? Yes, but in moderation, as there is a specific limit so as not to damage their organs.
Most dog foods and treats already have sodium because it is essential to their diet. So, if you share your potato crisps with your pooch, they will get more salt than their body needs. So, you may ask, how much salt can a dog have? The healthy amount of salt in your dog’s food should be 0.25g to 1.5g per 100g of food. This level benefits your dog’s bodily functions, however, anything over that can already be bad for dogs.
So going back, is salt good for dogs? Yes, when given in ideal amounts. Is salt bad for dogs? Yes, if given in huge amounts.
Difference Between Salt and Sodium
It’s easy to get confused between salt and sodium. So, let’s compare both and find out the difference between the two. Sodium is a dietary mineral that naturally occurs in certain foods like kale, sweet potatoes, and many more. It’s an element that plays a vital role in our bodies to help regulate the balance of fluids in body tissues, muscles, and organs.
On the other hand, salt is a compound made from the chemical reaction between sodium and chlorine. That is why salt is also known chemically as sodium chloride. Salt partly contains sodium. Because sodium is an essential element in our diets, salt is added to foods to enrich them with sodium.
Like us, dogs need sodium, too. Sodium turns into ions when ingested into our pet’s body. These electrolytes keep the balance of water to keep them healthy. Aside from that, sodium helps control your dog’s blood pressure and blood volume. It also helps maintain the normal pH balance in their bodies.
Sodium is not the only beneficial component of salt. Chloride offers benefits to your pooch as well, since it converts into ions too. Thus, it keeps your dog’s muscles healthy. Additionally, it also aids in the production of hydrochloric acid in your pet’s tummy for digestion.
What Happens When Dogs Have Too Much Salt?
Both inadequate and excess amounts of salt in the body can harm your dog. Because of insufficient amounts of sodium in the body, your dog may experience Hyponatremia. Symptoms of this condition include lethargy, nausea, lack of appetite, confusion, reduced mobility, seizures, and even death.
According to a study in 2015, dogs and cats with Hyponatremia have a high fatality rate compared to those with normal sodium levels. Therefore, maintaining a healthy sodium level in your pet’s body is as important as keeping him alive. Also, preventing excessive salt concentration is crucial to your dog’s health. Based on the same study, fatality rates are even higher in cases where animals experience Hypernatremia.
Hypernatremia results from too much salt ingestion and inadequate water intake in dogs. It is a life-threatening condition that may cause neurological damage, coma, and death to your pup. Mild hypernatremia starts with symptoms like increased thirst, confusion, vomiting, and diarrhea. Offering water or placing an IV for fluids are quick treatments for Hypernatremia to restore the fluid balance of your dog’s body. However, it shouldn’t be done rapidly as it can also be dangerous to your pet.
How Much Amount of Salt Can Dogs Have?
Since we have established the importance of keeping sodium concentration at healthy levels, let’s check out how much salt is too much for a dog. But, first of all, consider taking your dog to the vet for consultation on the right amount of salt for your dog’s diet. This is to rule out any diseases that may be affected by any changes in their salt intake. Dogs with urate stones or kidney diseases might require a special type of dog food specifically for their condition.
The amount of salt in your dog’s diet should only be 0.15% per 100 grams of food or less. So, when feeding your dog, always check the ingredients list to know the amount of sodium it contains. This includes his treats, too. And if you are feeding him wet food, or a combination of both dry and wet food, calculate the total amount of sodium to avoid going over the ideal level. Take note that most wet food brands contain a high amount of sodium according to a study.
Is salt safe for dogs? In general, dog food manufacturing companies try to provide a safe amount of salt in their products. However, since dog owners love to mix dog food types or offer more treats or even salty human food, some pooches get more sodium than they should. Is salt toxic to dogs? 2 grams of salt per pound of body weight is lethal to dogs, so yes, salt can be toxic to dogs.
How to Treat Salt Poisoning in Dogs
Sometimes, no matter how careful pet owners are, dogs find a way to steal forbidden salty snacks. Other times, they refuse to drink enough water or ingest a lot of saltwater when they are out by the beach. As a result, you may have to deal with salt poisoning. Here are the signs your dog is experiencing salt poisoning:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increased thirst
- Excessive urination
- Swollen abdomen or fluid retention
- Tremors or seizures
Whenever this happens, remain calm and contact your vet immediately. Give necessary details like your dog’s age, weight, medical conditions, and the amount of salt ingested. While waiting to get to the vet’s clinic, offer your dog some fresh water to prevent dehydration.
Once you reach the clinic, your vet will perform some tests to measure any damage done to your canine companion. Treatment may include IV fluids, medicines for electrolyte balance, and monitoring if needed.
Too much of anything can be harmful. In the case of salt for dogs, insufficiency can be detrimental, too. Moderation is the key to keeping your pooch healthy. So stay informed and always monitor your pet’s salt intake to keep it at its optimum levels.