Salt is a key component in a balanced dog’s diet, helping them to stay happy and healthy. Consuming small quantities of salt is not harmful to dogs, but just like with humans, salt in excess can be incredibly dangerous. If your dog consumes too much salt on a regular basis or too much at once, then they may be at risk of developing health problems that could potentially be fatal. Controlling your dog’s salt intake is a very important part of ensuring that they have a healthy and well-suited diet to their lifestyle.
How Much Salt Is My Dog Allowed?
Dogs have a much lower tolerance to salt than humans do and can only consume a small amount of sodium as part of their diet. It is recommended that for a dog that weighs 33lb, which is about the weight of two average-sized pugs, around 100mg of sodium a day is about right. Сonsider feeding your pet a low sodium dog food.
100mg of sodium a day may not seem like much, especially seeing as an average-sized adult human can safely consume around 2400mg of sodium per day, which is about 6g of salt. Whilst it is only a small amount, it is all that your four-legged friend is going to be able to safely digest.
For dogs that have special dietary requirements, or problems with their liver, kidney, or heart, then you may need to make special alterations to the sodium levels their diet. Even the limit of 100mg per day per 33lb, may be far too much for some dogs.
Sodium in Dog Food
Much of a dog’s recommended salt intake is covered by the dog food that you feed them. The vast majority of branded dog foods that you can buy at the store have a sodium content. When choosing a food for your dog, it is always important to take note of the sodium content, so you can avoid feeding your dog too much salt accidently.
If you use a dog food that has a high sodium content, and then feed your dog similar treats, they could be at risk of overdosing on sodium. This can lead to a vast range of health problems and cause your dog serious discomfort.
What Can Happen Is My Dog Eats Too Much Salt?
While some salt is essential for a healthy diet, too much could lead to hypernatremia, which is when the salt levels in your dog’s body are higher than normal. Salt poisoning is a dangerous condition, especially if your dog doesn’t have access to clean water to rehydrate.
It takes the consumption of a relatively high amount of salt to cause fatality, but the symptoms of salt poisoning can occur even after only a small amount. There are a number of symptoms that accompany salt poisoning that can be uncomfortable and distressing for your dog.
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Symptoms of Salt Poisoning
Salt poisoning symptoms can appear straight away, or over the course of a few days, depending on whether your dog was exposed to high levels of salt at once, or gradually. Whilst salt poisoning can be lethal, the symptoms can also just be minor. The most common symptoms of salt poisoning, include:
- Lowered appetite
- Scratching and disorientation
- Heightened thirst and consumption of water
- Weakness and lethargy
- Potential of seizures and coma
If your dog shows signs of salt poisoning, then access to fresh water is vital, as they will need to stay hydrated. This is normally advised to be given frequently, but not continuously, to prevent the symptoms from being made worse. Serious symptoms should be addressed by a vet, who can help to alleviate them and remove the salt.
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Can My Dog Be Salt Deficient?
Despite the potential problems with too much salt in your dog’s diet, it is important not to remove salt completely, or limit it too much. Sodium is an essential mineral for dogs and humans alike, and the levels of sodium in your dog do need replenishing. Too little salt could cause damage to internal organs and stop them from functioning as they should.
Moderate That Salt!
Sodium plays a key role in keeping a dog healthy, balancing the fluids in their cells, and helping with nerve impulse transmission. The best thing you can do for your dog, where salt is concerned, is to monitor how much salt they consume and keep the amount in moderation.
To ensure that your dog stays fit and healthy, keep them away from any salty snacks, and make sure you check the food they’re eating so you’re not unknowingly giving them much more salt than they can handle.
- Anna Burke, Is It Dangerous for Dogs to Drink Salt Water?, The American Kennel Club