Can Dogs Eat Salt?


Any item in excess can be harmful for us and for our four-legged dog buddies, and salt is no different. Dogs can have some salt, or sodium, in their food, however, too much salt can result in severe health problems and even death.

Salt, otherwise known as sodium, is a vital mineral in every canine’s balanced diet. However, too much salt is not good for dogs – it can dehydrate your dog, or worse, lead to salt poisoning.

In low amounts, salt can help the body maintain a perfect balance of fluid within the cells. Furthermore, sodium helps in conducting nerve impulse transmission and generation.

How much is an excessive amount of salt for dogs?

In accordance with the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resource, dogs weighing around 33 pounds must not consume in excess of 100 mg of sodium every single day. Make it a point to consult with your vet regarding adjusting the quantity of salt according to the size of your pooch. Even though some canines, such as those suffering from a heart condition, might need reduced levels of sodium, your veterinarian will be able to assist you in figuring out the correct amount.

What happens if your dog eats too much salt?

An excessive amount of sodium in your dog’s blood can cause the muscle tissues to get rid of moisture, and they might even become stiff, which can lead to your dog trembling or shaking. The most severe indications of salt poisoning happen to be neurological. Symptoms include coma, convulsions, and the possibility of death. The presence of too much salt can cause the brain cells to become dry because of the discharge of water from the tissues which are used for diluting the salt within the bloodstream.

If your dog doesn’t drink enough water, your dog will become dehydrated, and this can lead to more serious conditions such as fainting, fast heartbeat, distress, in addition to difficulty inhaling and exhaling. If you believe that your pet has consumed an excessive amount of salt, call your vet immediately to get a professional opinion on what you should do next.

Indications of salt poisoning in canines

You will come across many indications of salt poisoning in pups. These might be gastrointestinal, neurological, and even cardiovascular. Frequent urination and thirst are the most typical symptoms. If you feel like your dog might have ingested too much salt, make sure to give him/her plenty of water. This will help to dilute the salt present in the blood.

More extreme indications of salt poisoning include: comas, extreme thirst and urination, headache, confusion, convulsions, vomiting, muscle spasms, fluid buildup, respiratory problems, high fever, increased heart rate, walking like intoxicated, lack of energy, tongue swelling, loss of appetite, nausea, seizures, diarrhea, stomach pains, weakness, and in the worst case, death.

Reasons for salt poisoning in canines

If there is an excessive quantity of salt in the blood of the dog, it can trigger sodium poisoning particularly if there is no fresh water to drink. Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water.

Salt poisoning can be caused by the ingestion of many items that might be found around the residence, for example:

•  Homemade playdough

•  Paintballs

•  Table salt

•  Rock salt

•  Soy sauce

How does your vet determine if your dog is suffering from salt poisoning?

Your vet will perform a comprehensive physical test to verify if your dog is suffering from salt poisoning. This test might include: checking your pet’s temperature, reflexes, weight, blood pressure, pulse, height, respiration, and vision and hearing exams.

Do not forget to bring along any medical records that you might have, including the vaccination records of the animal, injury and illness information, and be prepared to describe any unusual appetite or behavior. Explain to the vet what your dog has consumed, in what quantities, and how long ago. Make it a point to make a list of all the symptoms observed and communicate them to your vet.

The vet will perform some tests on complete blood count, blood chemistry, blood gases, in addition to a urinalysis to measure the sodium level. Besides these, a comprehensive cardiac diagnostic might also be conducted. This will consist of an EKG (electrocardiogram) for measuring your dog’s heart’s electrical impulses, x-rays, CT scan, MRI, in addition to ultrasound to see if any damage has been done to your dog’s heart, brain, and lungs.

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Ollie the English bulldog
Teaching your dog to keep away from salt:

Obviously, as a human being, you have salt at home, so it’s important that it is kept out of your dog’s reach.

Although a small amount of salt will not be harmful to your dog, he/she could easily overindulge when they come across some left-around salt, which could be extremely harmful to him/her in the long run. Therefore, it is prudent to teach your dog to stay away from salt, in addition to keeping it away from them.

After stashing away the salt, make sure that your dog has a decent grasp on the fundamental obedience commands. This will help him to know that a firm “leave it” or “no” from you means business.

Furthermore, make it a point to teach your dog to keep out of the location where the salt has been kept, regardless of whether it is your pantry, your kitchen, or some other area. Make your pet understand that walking around into a room where he/she isn’t permitted to go will not be tolerated.

Do not forget to reward him once he avoids following you into the area where salt and other goodies have been stored and penalize your pet safely and securely once he happens to wander into the location. Lastly, one of the most effective ways to guarantee that there are no unintentional salt overdoses would be to crate train your pet or keep him/her in an enclosed area, while you are not at home, so that they do not get in to or eat anything that might be harmful to them.

Safety guidelines for salt around dogs:

•  Avoid giving him/her table scraps or human food

•  Verify the levels of sodium on the commercial food that you’re serving your canine. Go through product labels to get an idea of the amount of sodium chloride present in your dog’s treats and food.

•  Talk to a veterinarian about proper levels of sodium in dog food

•  Store salt in an inaccessible area

• Make sure that your dog has access to clean, fresh water 

What do to if your dog eats too much salt?

If you suspect that your dog has consumed an excessive amount of salt that could lead to poisoning, call a vet immediately. Inform the vet about the size of your pet, his usual diet, plus the amount of salt he or she has ingested.

If there is severe salt poisoning, you might need to admit your dog to the animal hospital where IV fluids might have to be administered, electrolytes might be given, and therapies for both brain inflammation and dehydration will be considered.

Treating severe salt poisoning can take time: it can take as much as three days to fully reduce sodium saturation to safe levels. This is why its important to take your dog to the vet if you suspect any signs of salt poisoning.

Always bear in mind that an excessive amount of salt could be harmful to your dog’s health. Keep your dog happy and healthy by making sure that they do not eat an unnecessary quantity of salt.

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