The Dos and Don'ts of Sodium: Can Dogs Have Salt without Harm?

The Dos and Don'ts of Sodium: Can Dogs Have Salt without Harm?

Posted by volhard dog nutrition on Mar 27th 2024

Salt: the one seasoning that can make our tails wag just as much as our dogs'.

But before we go seasoning our pooch's dinner like a gourmet chef, it's worth taking a "paws" to consider the implications.

While a small amount of sodium is necessary for their health, too much can lead to serious health issues. Just like for us, balance is essential.

So, what are the dos and don'ts of sodium for dogs? From understanding how much is too much to recognizing sodium-rich foods to avoid, we're here to help you navigate the salty waters of your dog's diet.

Dog and salt

Can Dogs Eat Salt in Moderation?

The answer is yes, dogs can have salt!

A tiny amount of salt is necessary for maintaining fluid balance and nerve function.

However, too much salt can lead to salt poisoning or toxicity, which can put your canine companion’s life in danger.

Monitoring your dog's salt intake is essential as a pet parent. Fresh drinking water should always be available to help manage salt levels and maintain healthy body fluids.

What Is a Safe Percentage of Salt in Dog Food?

A safe percentage is around 0.3%.

This level of sodium chloride is sufficient to meet a dog's dietary needs without risking their health. The Volhard diets are formulated to contain the right amount of salt to support your dog's health.

When a dog consumes an excessive amount of salt, signs of salt poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and seizures.

If you suspect your dog has ingested too much salt, contact a holistic veterinarian immediately. Treatment includes IV fluids and supportive therapies to help bring the dog's blood sodium back to safe levels.

Deciphering Dog Food Labels: Hidden Sources of Sodium

You may know that too much salt is bad for dogs, but it can be challenging to identify hidden sources of sodium in dog food.

These sneaky ingredients contribute to an excessive amount of salt in your dog's diet, potentially leading to salt toxicity or high blood pressure.

Keep an eye on the sodium levels in the dog food you choose. A healthy dog diet shouldn't rely on salty snacks or unhealthy human foods, which can exacerbate the risk of salt poisoning.

Sneaky Names for Salt in Dog Food: What to Look Out For

Sneaky names for salt in dog food

When reading dog food labels, be vigilant about sneaky names for salt.

Dog food companies often use alternative names for sodium, making it harder to determine how much salt is actually in your dog's food.

We're looking beyond the obvious labels like table salt or rock salt.

Be cautious of terms like:

  • Sea salt
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Sodium nitrate/nitrite
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Brine
  • Disodium phosphate

These ingredients are often used in dog treats and foods, especially those that are flavored or claim to be 'gourmet' or 'premium.' While they can enhance taste, they also lead to an increase in your dog's sodium intake.

Understanding the various names of salt and carefully choosing dog foods with appropriate sodium levels can protect your furry friend's health and keep them happy and hydrated.

Should Puppies Have More Salt Than Adult Dogs?

With their rapid growth and development, puppies sometimes require a bit more sodium in their diets than adult dogs.

This is because sodium plays a vital role in their growth, helping to regulate body fluids and nerve function.

However, this doesn't mean puppies should have free access to salty foods or additional salt in their diet.

Our puppy foods are typically formulated with the correct sodium chloride levels to meet their developmental needs.

How Does Excess Salt Affect a Dog's Hydration?

If a dog drinks salt water or consumes high-salt foods, their body will try to balance the sodium levels by drawing more water into the bloodstream.

This increase in blood volume subsequently elevates their blood pressure, putting strain on the heart and kidneys.

The primary response of a dog's body to excess sodium is to increase thirst, prompting them to drink more water to reduce fluid imbalances.

In severe cases, too much salt can lead to clinical signs of salt poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, seizures, and can even be life-threatening.

Avoid Feeding These Common High-Sodium Foods to Your Dog

Avoid feeding these common high-sodium foods to your dog

Various human foods high in sodium are unsuitable for dogs, such as:

  1. Table Salt
  2. Potato Chips
  3. Soy Sauce
  4. Processed Meats
  5. Store-Bought Soup
  6. Canned Food in Brine
  7. Cheese
  8. Snack Foods
  9. Pepperoni

Why Should You Avoid Feeding French Fries to Dogs?

French fries—a food most of us know and love—must be avoided due to their excess salt content.

While the occasional plain, unsalted potato may not be harmful, consuming French fries is not ideal. The high salt content disturbs the fluid balance in a dog's body, leading to serious health issues such as high blood pressure and kidney disease. Potatoes are inflammatory carbs that may lead to gut health issues.

Furthermore, the oil in which French fries are cooked contributes to an unhealthy increase in fat in a dog's diet, leading to obesity.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested a potentially harmful amount of salt, perhaps from foods like french fries, it's crucial to contact your veterinarian without delay.

Healthier Alternatives: 6 Low-Sodium Options for Dogs

6 low-sodium options for dogs

Choosing low-sodium options is easier than you think!

Here are some healthier alternatives that are both low in salt and safe for dogs:

  1. Fresh VegetablesCarrots, green beans, and cucumbers are great low-sodium treats.
  2. Plain, Cooked Chicken or Turkey: These are excellent protein sources without the added salt.
  3. Rice and Oats: Plain, cooked rice and oats are healthy sources of carbohydrates.
  4. Cottage Cheese (Low-Sodium Variety): A good source of calcium and protein.
  5. Pumpkin: Great for digestion and low in salt.
  6. Unsalted Peanut Butter: A tasty treat in moderation; ensure it's xylitol-free.

Salt-Free Fish Options for Dogs: Mackerel and Sardines

Mackerel and sardines can be excellent additions to your dog's diet, provided they are served without added salt.

These fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit your dog's skin, coat, and overall health.

When considering fish for your dog, opt for fresh or canned varieties with no added salt. The bones in these small fish are safe for your dog to consume.

5 Benefits of Low-Sodium Bone Broth for Dogs

5 benefits of low-sodium bone broth for dogs

Low-sodium bone broth is a nutritious and hydrating addition to your dog's diet, especially beneficial for puppies.

Here are 5 benefits of incorporating low-sodium bone broth, with a range of 0.2 to 0.4% salt content:

  1. Hydration: Bone broth can help keep your dog hydrated thanks to its high moisture content.
  2. Joint Health: Rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, it supports joint health.
  3. Digestive Aid: It's gentle on the stomach and can help soothe digestive issues.
  4. Nutrient-Rich: Packed with minerals and nutrients, it's a wholesome addition.
  5. Appetite Stimulation: Great for enticing dogs with low appetite.

You can easily make bone broth at home, making it a simple yet nutritious addition to your pup's diet!

Discover the Right Balance with Volhard!

Are you eager to give your furry pal the best nutrition and care? Discover the benefits of low-sodium options and see how simple changes like introducing salt-free fish or nourishing bone broth can make a big difference in your dog's health and happiness.

For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure to contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods!

Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind.

If you want to contact one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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