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.
Best Low Sodium Dog Food Buying Guide & FAQ
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.
- Quality protein
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.
- Healthy fats & fiber
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.
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.