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Is Salt Bad For Dogs

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Salt is not necessarily bad for dogs and can be good for them in moderation, as it contains sodium which is essential for maintaining fluid balance in the body and regulating the water content of organs.
  • Most dog foods and treats already contain sodium, so it's important to be mindful when giving dogs additional salt.
  • Dogs need to maintain healthy electrolyte balance, including sodium, to stay healthy.
  • Too much salt can be very harmful to dogs, resulting in hyponatremia or hypernatremia, which can cause a range of symptoms including lethargy, confusion, seizures, coma or death.
  • The maximum safe amount of salt in a dog's diet is 0.15% per 100g of food or less, and any salt intake that exceeds 2 grams of salt per pound of body weight can be lethal.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Monday 17 October 2022
Last updated on
Thursday 11 May 2023
Is Salt Bad For Dogs
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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 both good and bad for dogs. Most of us know salt as a common food seasoning, but what is it? Salt is a natural crystalline mineral made of a chemical compound called sodium chloride (NaCl). Salt is created by evaporating seawater or by mining rock salt deposits. Also, salt is used in food preservation, cleaning, de-icing, and even in other non-dietary industries.

Sodium is a necessary component of salt. Table salt, for example, contains 40% sodium. Sodium is an electrolyte that regulates fluid balance in the body. Dogs, like humans, need electrolytes, including sodium, to maintain a healthy balance of fluids. However, dogs should consume salt in moderation since too much of it can harm their organs.

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, dogs can eat salt, but it’s crucial to do so in moderation to prevent harm to 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 common to confuse salt and sodium, but they’re actually different things. Sodium is a mineral that occurs naturally in certain foods like kale and sweet potatoes. It’s an essential element that helps regulate the balance of fluids in our bodies, including our muscles and organs.

Salt, on the other hand, is a compound made up of sodium and chloride. It’s added to many foods to enrich them with sodium. When dogs ingest sodium, it turns into ions, which help maintain a healthy balance of water in their bodies. Sodium also helps control blood pressure and maintain a normal pH balance.

Chloride, which is also found in salt, converts into ions as well, keeping your dog’s muscles healthy and aiding in digestion by producing hydrochloric acid in their tummy.

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. 

A 2015 study found that dogs and cats with hyponatremia have a high fatality rate compared to those with normal sodium levels. So, it’s essential to maintain a healthy sodium level in your pet’s body to keep them alive and healthy. Also, it’s crucial to prevent excessive salt intake to avoid hypernatremia, which is a severe condition that can be life-threatening to your dog.

Hypernatremia occurs when your dog ingests too much salt and doesn’t drink enough water. This condition can cause neurological damage, coma, and even death. Mild hypernatremia can cause symptoms such as increased thirst, confusion, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you notice these symptoms, offer your dog water, or have a vet place an IV to restore the fluid balance in their body. However, it’s important not to do this too quickly, as it can also be dangerous for your pet

How Much Amount of Salt Can Dogs Have? 

Firstly, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the right amount of salt for your dog’s diet, especially if they have any underlying health conditions that could be affected by changes in their salt intake. For example, dogs with urate stones or kidney disease may require a special type of dog food tailored to their condition.

The recommended amount of salt in your dog’s diet is 0.15% per 100 grams of food or less. Always check the ingredients list on your dog’s food, including treats, to ensure the sodium levels are within this range. If you feed your dog wet food or a combination of dry and wet food, calculate the total amount of sodium to avoid exceeding the recommended level. Keep in mind that most wet food brands contain high levels of sodium, according to a study.

While dog food manufacturers aim to provide safe amounts of salt in their products, dogs can still consume too much salt if they are given human food or excessive treats. Ingesting 2 grams of salt per pound of body weight can be fatal to dogs, so salt can be toxic to them.

Overall, monitoring your dog’s salt intake is crucial to maintaining their health and well-being

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
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive urination
  • Swollen abdomen or fluid retention
  • Incoordination
  • Tremors or seizures

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, don’t panic but do contact your vet right away. Give necessary details like your dog’s age, weight, medical conditions, and the amount of salt ingested. To keep your dog healthy, it’s important to monitor their salt intake and aim for moderation.

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. 

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