Can Dogs Eat Salt? 9 Facts About It

Too much salt is bad for humans, but is it bad for dogs, too? Is hypertension a similar issue for them?

Does an excess of salt make them ill? Can you give your dog a few of those incredibly salty potato chips? What if your dog has a taste for saltwater?

In this article, we will discuss the importance of limiting your dog’s salt intake.

Can Dogs Eat Salt?

Although dogs are able to consume salt, giving them too much at once can be fatal.

Dogs have similar salt requirements to their human counterparts. Sodium chloride (commonly known as salt) is essential to maintaining proper fluid balance and ensuring the smooth operation of the body’s organs and nervous system.

The recommended daily allowance of salt for a dog is already provided by the ingredients in most commercially available dog foods, so giving your dog any extra salt is unnecessary.

An excess of salt in the body increases fluid load, which in turn raises blood pressure and exacerbates other symptoms of heart disease. Having too much salt in the body (hypernatremia) is a dangerous condition.

Salt toxicity is relatively common in veterinary hospitals, and water deprivation may be the leading cause. If the water dish freezes over during the winter, if it gets spilled and isn’t refilled, or if the house sitter forgets to put out fresh water while you’re away, this is a major cause for concern. All animals need constant access to clean water.

Symptoms of salt poisoning in a dog include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and, eventually, death.

An emergency of salt poisoning’s severity is better avoided than treated. A dog should not be exposed to salty or corrosive substances such as rock salt, homemade play dough or ornaments, soy sauce, table salt, salty foods, or sea water.

Don’t wait for symptoms to appear before calling your vet for help if the worst should happen.

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Can Dogs Eat Salty Human Foods?

If you have a dog, resist the urge to feed it potato chips, salted nuts, pretzels, or any other salty snack or table food. This includes garlic salt.

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If your dog picks up a pretzel you’ve dropped on the floor, they are probably fine.

It’s important to keep your dog away from salty human foods regardless of whether they have hypertension, kidney disease, heart disease, or any other condition that calls for a low salt intake.

When this is the case, your vet may suggest switching to a low-salt dog food.

Can Dogs Drink Salt Water?

When you go to the beach, does your dog ever deliberately drink the salt water? They are in danger here, unfortunately.

Drinking salt water can cause dehydration in a dog because the excess salt pulls fluid away from the bloodstream and into the digestive tract.

The two negative outcomes of this are significant. First, it causes dehydration by removing fluid from the dog’s blood. For a second, it’s highly likely to make you sick, which speeds up the dehydration process.

But at what point does a body of water become too salty to be safe? Your dog’s size will determine this. Call your vet right away if you have any doubts about your pet’s health; the sooner treatment begins, the better.

Extreme toxicity requires a lot of seawater (roughly a cup of seawater per pound of dog), but even small amounts can cause stomach upset.

Because most dogs dislike the taste, even a small amount of this liquid can be harmful to them.

Common Products That Can Cause Salt Poisoning in Dogs

In addition to the obvious salty foods like pretzels, chips, soy sauce, and table salt, there are other products that contain significant amounts of sodium chloride and should be avoided because of the risk of canine toxicity.

Homemade play dough and dough ornaments are also common sources of salt toxicity. Because of how tasty the ingredients in these doughs are, dogs may eat too much of it and get sick.

A paintball is an unusual source of salt toxicity. Worse, paintballs can cause a false positive blood test for antifreeze, so if you think your dog has ingested a paintball instead of antifreeze, you should let your vet know.

The sodium phosphate found in some at-home enema kits also means they qualify. This is one of the main reasons why at-home enemas are not recommended for pets (along with the risk of causing serious damage to the colon).

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Rock salt, such as that used in de-icing, is another potential hazard. Dogs can accidentally ingest a large quantity of this when they get some stuck in their paws while grooming.

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How Much Salt is Okay?

If you are concerned about the amount of salt in your dog’s food or treats, it is best to speak with your veterinarian. Your vet can also give you advice on what to do if your dog ingests too much salt.

Signs of Sodium Poisoning in Dogs

Depending on the severity of the condition and the amount of salt consumed, dogs may exhibit a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe salt poisoning. However, regardless of how mild the symptoms may be, salt poisoning is always treated as an emergency.

Early warning signs can include:

  • loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sluggishness

Neurologic symptoms may emerge as the disease progresses and include:

  • Coordination problems
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Chronic dry mouth and frequent urination

Seizures and eventually a coma can develop as the symptoms deteriorate. Once the disease reaches this stage, the dog typically succumbs to it and dies.

What To Do if You Suspect Your Dog Had Too Much Salt

Remember that your pet is an individual, and the progression of symptoms described above may not apply to them. If you think your dog has consumed too much salt or has been dehydrated, it is critical that you seek veterinary attention immediately.

Make a record of what your dog ingested, when it happened, and how much. While this information may prove useful, it is still recommended that you consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Although it may make sense at first, you cannot simply “dilute” the salt by giving your dog water. Salt toxicity affects electrolytes, which are also important for maintaining fluid balance in the body.

Brain swelling and heart failure are just two of the complications that can result from a sudden shift in fluid volume.

Careful rehydration requires close monitoring of blood pressure, heart rate, and other vitals as they are restored.

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Getting the equilibrium of a poisoned animal back to normal can take several days in the hospital. Giving your pet a lot of water when you know they’ve consumed a lot of salt might seem like the best course of action, but in most cases, this is not the case.

If you call a poison control center or veterinarian, they can help you devise a strategy that won’t harm your pet. As a rule, this necessitates medical attention at a hospital.

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Toxic ingestion emergencies

In the event that you suspect your dog has accidentally consumed salt, you should contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. The weight of your dog and the amount of salt it ate will be useful pieces of information.

Hospitalization at a veterinary hospital for round-the-clock care and monitoring may be advised if salt poisoning is suspected.

IV fluid therapy, electrolyte monitoring, and any other supportive medications prescribed by the veterinarian may be part of the standard diagnostics and treatment plan during hospitalization.

Hospital stays and outcomes are affected by how quickly patients recover after receiving supportive care after ingesting salt and how well they respond to treatment.

How Do Vets Treat Dogs With Salt Poisoning?

After admitting your pet to the hospital, your vet will likely perform a battery of diagnostic procedures to identify the affected organs and establish the animal’s fluid status. Tests like a urinalysis and bloodwork (especially an electrolyte panel) may be necessary.

Animals that are severely impacted will likely require an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a neurological exam. It’s possible that the specifics will vary from case to case, depending on the root cause and degree of manifestation.

When sodium poisoning is suspected, your dog will need to be hospitalized so that they can receive intravenous fluids to begin lowering their sodium levels gradually. Dehydration in dogs is often treated with oxygen therapy and electrolyte therapy.

Because of the potential dangers associated with too rapid or too slow a shift in the fluid balance of a dog, working through salt toxicity is a slow process that must be handled very carefully.

Regular blood tests and reevaluation of clinical signs are usually used to guide treatment. Dogs can recover from salt toxicity, but only with prompt action from pet parents and careful veterinary care.

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