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Salt is an essential nutrient for all mammals – in fact, we all need it in order to survive. But just like too little salt can be a serious problem, so can too much of it. And unfortunately, we all tend to consume too much sodium nowadays, our dogs included. Most dog foods on the market are loaded with salt to increase palatability, and while this may not be a problem for most healthy dogs, it can become a serious one for canines with kidney, heart and liver issues. By reducing the level of salt in your pet’s diet, you can help him become healthier. The only problem is, it’s quite hard to find low salt dog foods, as manufacturers are not required to print sodium information on the label. In fact, The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) hasn’t even established a highest acceptable level of salt content in dog foods, only a minimally acceptable one.
So how are you supposed to find a good low salt dog food? You do a lot of research – read official recommendations, all the ingredients on the label, product analysis, maybe even get in touch with the brand itself to verify their food is low in salt. Obviously, not everyone has the time nor the desire to do all that, and that’s understandable. But that’s why we’re here – to help you find the best low sodium dog food. We’ve done the legwork for you and came up with this Top 10 list of best low sodium dog foods on the market. Check it out and remember to read our buying guide and FAQ section for more information.
The Honest Kitchen is a reputable brand that uses only high-quality ingredients in their pet foods. This particular dry dog food is no exception – made with human grade ingredients, this formula is not only a healthy, quality dog food, but is low in salt as everything used here is completely natural – there are no fillers of any kind.
The formula is made with ranch-raised beef meat and organic whole grains, and contains quite a few healthy fruits and veggies, including potatoes, carrots, cranberries, apples, spinach, and of course, organic oat and barley. Despite a wide array of ingredients, this food is relatively low in calories – it contains a moderate amount of protein, low amount of fat and quite a lot of fiber, making it perfect for canines who need some help with weight maintenance.
Since there are no by-products, preservatives, corn, wheat or soy here, this dog food is lower in sodium than most commercial dog formulas. This is a dehydrated formula, meaning you need to add warm water before serving it to your dog – another plus, as it ups your furry friend’s water intake.
If a diet too high in sodium has created some stomach, skin and coat issues for your dog, you’ll be pleased to know you can reverse these health problems with a proper diet. The Hill’s Science Diet can greatly help you with that.
This dry dog food is clinically proven to help with digestion, skin and coat health, as it provides a complete and balanced nutrition for all canines. It’s made of quality, wholesome ingredients and contains no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. It also helps it’s highly palatable – even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy this chicken and barley formula. Of course, the food is also enriched with vitamins and minerals, so it’s guaranteed to provide a complete meal every time. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin is one of the 5 recipes included in our Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Review.
Since this is a filler-free, quality dry dog food, it’s lower in sodium than most popular dog foods on the market.
The Wellness Pet Food are well-known for their quality pet formulas. This particular dry dog food contains not only lots of natural, healthy ingredients, but much less fat than Core Original recipes. Ideal for dogs who don’t get a lot of physical activity and need help with heart health.
The Core Reduced fat is highly rich in protein and fiber but contains 25% less fat than original Core recipes. It’s also grain-free, which makes it perfect for canines who suffer from digestive issues. Even so, the manufacturer managed to pack this dry food with various nutritious ingredients, including turkey, chicken liver, carrots, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, flaxseed, salmon oil, spinach, apples, blueberries…and many, many other superfoods.
Since this dog food contains only natural, quality ingredients along with some important supplements (you’ll find no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors here), it’s is a rather low sodium dog food.
Kilocalories: 3,250 kcal/kg or 360 kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 33%
Minimum fat: 10%
Maximum fiber: 8.50%
Maximum moisture: 10%
Deboned turkey, turkey meal and chicken meal recipe
Another dog food from The Honest Kitchen, similar when it comes to quality of ingredients used, but different when it comes to grains – this dehydrated formula is completely grain-free, perfect for picky eaters and canines who can’t tolerate coarse grains.
The recipe combines dehydrated cage-free turkey with antioxidant-rich produce such as spinach, potatoes, coconut, flaxseed, apples, cranberries, etc. This is a low-carbohydrate and grain-free food that is high in protein and fiber, ideal not only for pups who need to be on a low sodium diet, but for those who need low-carb foods as well. To provide a nutritionally complete everyday meal, the formula is fortified with important vitamins and minerals.
If your pup has serious food sensitivities, high sodium content in his diet may be just a part of the problem. Often, canines with digestive issues, skin and coat problems, and several food sensitivities eat too many things that irritate their sensitive immune systems. For such pets, formulas with limited ingredients are a good option, and this particular Natural Balance Limited Ingredient dry dog food is one of the best.
Formulated with a limited list of quality protein and carbohydrate sources, this dog food provides excellent nutrition for all breeds, but especially canines who struggle with skin, coat, and stomach issues. Ingredients such as lamb meal, brown rice, and tomato pomace represent the base of this formula, but there are many added supplements, including various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Although not specifically low in salt, this low-calorie dry dog food uses only quality ingredients – no fillers of any kind – which is always a plus, as it ensures little salt is added.
Delicious, packed with quality ingredients, vitamins and minerals but not salt, the Purina Pro Plan Focus dog foods are tailored to the canine’s life stage, breed size or goal, such as coat control or weight management. This particular recipe features salmon and rice as its main ingredients, and is formulated for dogs with sensitive skin and stomach.
With a balanced ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat, this dry dog food is ideal for most canines, not just those who need to reduce their salt intake. Ingredients such as salmon, fish meal, barley, rice, chicory root inulin and fish oil offer a nutritious base, but the formula is also enriched with added vitamins and minerals, so you can be sure you’re always serving a nutritionally-complete meal to your pup. Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach is one of 5 dog food recipes included in our review of the Purina Pro Plan Dog Food product line.
There are no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or low-quality fillers here, which means you can count on a mild sodium restriction with this dog food.
Although pretty much all dogs require a similar diet (relatively high in protein, moderately high in healthy fats and complex carbohydrates), it’s no secret that different dog breeds require different nutrition. The Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition line caters to the unique needs of specific dog breeds and uses only quality ingredients, which means it’s a solid dog food choice that is not high in salt.
This particular formula is made for Boxers who are prone to cardiac sensitivity, although you can find any breed-specific dog food in the Breed Health Nutrition line. With ingredients such as brown rice, chicken, oats, pork meal, coconut oil and dried beet pulp, this food is packed with nutrients. It’s also fortified with vitamins and minerals, which is a must in our book.
With a purposefully limited number of ingredients, the Earthborn Holistic Adult Vantage is best suited for canines with food sensitivities and those who need to be on a low-salt diet. This formula features chicken meal and whitefish meal as its main protein sources, which makes it perfect for building and maintaining muscle mass.
Nutritious, high-quality ingredients such as wholesome grains (oatmeal, barley, brown rice and rye), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, flaxseed, blueberries, cranberries, apples, carrots and spinach, are a perfect combination for most canines, including those perfectly healthy and those who need some help with heart/blood pressure health. This is because this formula is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but is very low in salt (0.20%) – a rare thing when it comes to popular dog foods.
If you’re looking for a complete and balanced nutrition for your dog that is not high in sodium, you’ll want to check out the Wellness Complete Health line and this particular Lamb & Barley formula.
With high-quality sources of protein such as lamb and Manhaden fish, this dry dog food provides excellent nutrition for canines. There are other healthy ingredients here too, including oatmeal, barley, peas, rice, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, apples and blueberries – all wonderful ingredients for most canines. The formula is also fortified with vitamins and minerals, so it’s undoubtedly nutritionally-complete. And yet, this is not a high-calorie dog food – in fact, it’s formulated to promote and maintain healthy weight.
Many dog food manufacturers use too much sodium in their formulas to increase their palatability. Hill’s Science Diet is not one of them – using only quality ingredients, this particular line formulates biology-based nutrition that caters to animals based on their life stage, health problems and goals.
The Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light is recommended for adult dogs who are not particularly active, are prone to weight gain or are neutered. Thanks to a unique blend of ingredients, including chicken, barley, a few whole grains, fruits and veggies, this formula is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but contains a relatively low amount of sodium and has 18% less calories than their Adult Advanced Fitness.
Quality ingredients, lots of fiber and no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors make this dry dog food perfect for most canines who need some help with keeping the weight off.
If your dog has kidney, liver, heart or high blood pressure issues, your veterinarian may have encouraged you to start buying low sodium dog foods. If that’s the case, you’re probably wondering where to start. After all, there are no such things as low sodium dog food brands, are there!? There aren’t indeed – but that doesn’t mean you and your pup are stuck with high-sodium foods forever.
To find low sodium dog foods, you need to do a bit of research. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, we’ve already done most of the work for you, and our Top Picks list is the proof. We tried to include a variety of dog foods that are either low or relatively low in salt here, so you can easily find a product that’s just right for your furry pet. Some formulas are grain-free, others are not, some are breed-specific, others are formulated for heart health. Whatever you pick from our list, we’re sure both you and your pooch will be satisfied. Still, it’s good to be informed, which is why we’re prepared this buying guide and answered some of the FAQ.
What to Look for in a Low-Sodium Food
Dog foods low in salt should be nutritionally similar to regular dog foods, meaning they too should contain quality protein sources, some healthy fats and fiber. Of course, the most important thing that distinguishes low-sodium food from regular food is the amount of salt. The problem is, not every brand lists the amount of sodium on their formulas. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the following things.
All dog foods, including the low-sodium ones, should contain quality sources of protein. Whole meats are the best, but meat meals and by-products are fine too, as long as they’re properly labeled. For example, turkey meal is better than poultry meal; same thing with by-products. Protein should be high, but too high if your pup has kidney problems.
Just like regular dog foods, low-sodium foods should also contain a hefty amount of healthy fats and fiber. Animal fat, fish oil, flaxseed oil and salmon oil are all excellent fat choices. As for fiber, it’s especially important for canines who suffer from digestive issues.
No artificial additives
Most dog foods that are high in salt contain a bunch of artificial additives, such as flavors and dyes. For this reason, it’s best to avoid foods that contain them – they’re not nutritious anyway, they just increase the palatability of the food and often up the salt content.
Health Problems That Require Low-Sodium Foods
Generally speaking, dogs don’t mind a lot of salt in their diet. However, some pups, if fed high-salt foods over long periods of time, may develop health issues, including:
And nervous system problems.
Despite this, it’s not wise to restrict your dog’s salt intake unless your vet recommends it. Normally, unless your dog has already developed some of these health issues or suffers from congestive heart failure, you don’t need to worry about salt restriction. Saying that, it’s never a good idea to feed your dog a diet that is very high in salt, as excessive sodium intake can lead to various health issues including dehydration, which in turn can lead to a host of serious health problems.
Why Is Sodium Important?
Just like humans, canines need sodium in their diet to survive. This important mineral plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure, maintaining proper muscle and nerve cell function, and the entire cellular environment. That’s why you never want to buy dog foods without salt – if, and only if your pup already has health issues that require her to restrict her sodium intake, it’s wise to buy low sodium wet dog foods and/or low sodium dry dog foods, depending on what your vet recommends.
Best Low Sodium Dog Food FAQ:
Q: How much sodium should dogs get in their diets?
A: According to this report by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, a 33-pound dog who eats 1,000 calories a day should not consume more than 200 mg of sodium per day. Generally speaking, if your pup is healthy and doesn’t need sodium restriction in his diet, foods with at least 0.5% of sodium content are the ones you want to focus on.
Q: What happens if my dog overdoses on sodium?
A: If for some reason your dog consumes too much salt in a short time and there’s no water available, he’ll experience the destruction of brain cells as his body tries to release water to even out the levels of salt in the blood. This can lead to headaches, dizziness and even seizures.
Q: Should I supplement my dog’s diet with sodium?
A: Because sodium is such an important mineral, many pet owners feel like they should supplement their dog’s diet with salt. However, if you’re feeding your pup a regular diet and purchasing from reputable brands, there’s no need for supplementation.
Q: What do I do if my dog begins to show symptoms of dehydration or Hypernatremia (sodium overdose)?
A: If your dog starts showing signs of excess sodium in her blood, or hypernatremia, which include disorientation, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea or coma, take him to the vet immediately. She or he will take a detailed history of your pet and perform a full physical examination, as well as laboratory tests. The treatment usually consists of correcting your dog’s electrolyte balance, which is done via fluid therapy. In any case, you’ll want to follow your vet’s guidelines and recommendations closely.
Our Top Pick
Although all dog foods on our Top Picks list are great low sodium food choices, we feel like this buying guide wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t share our very own Top Pick – The Honest Kitchen, Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Whole Grain. This formula contains only the highest of quality ingredients, which are, in fact, human grade. Although it’s packed with nutritious foods, it’s relatively low in calories and fat, and most importantly, very low in salt (0.19%). Furthermore, it’s made with wholesome ingredients and contains no by-products, artificial preservatives, colors or flavors – a perfect dog food all around, especially for canines who are less active and require moderate sodium restriction.