Just like with people, too much salt can be dangerous for dogs. How much is too much, and can dogs eat salt in anything other than their main food? Let’s consider the risks carefully.
Why Is There Salt in Pet Food?
Most complete pet foods have some sodium chloride, or salt, added. It’s a common preservative that helps keep food fresh, and it can also enhance the flavor. Besides, sodium and chloride – the elements salt is made of – are necessary for your dog’s body. They help regulate fluid levels, support proper muscle function, and keep the heart working as it should.
In what amounts can dogs eat salt with their main food? The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) says that for dogs, the minimum amount of sodium should be 0.3% in dry food. Most commercial dog food contains 0.25g – 1.5 g of salt per 100 g.
Seawater or Play Dough can Poison Your Dog
When dogs eat too much salt at once, it results in salt poisoning, which can be fatal if not treated quickly. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, weakness, seizures, and even death.
However, it likely won’t happen from eating human food. It’s usually caused by ingesting salt from inedible sources. Some of the biggest concerns are seawater and homemade play dough. Large amounts of salt are also found in paintballs, along with other toxins. Baking soda also contains sodium, and can give your dog sodium ion poisoning.
If your dog has a history of eating inedible things, it’s best to watch them closely in situations where the above items are involved. And if you’re taking your pup for a swim in the sea, and they swallow the water, give them fresh water to drink as soon as possible.
What to Do if You Suspect Salt Poisoning in Your Dog?
If you think your dog is poisoned, the first thing to do is call your veterinarian, an emergency veterinary hospital, or pet poison helpline immediately. If possible, take a sample of what they ate with you, so the vet can determine how much salt they ingested and create a treatment plan.
Treatment for salt poisoning in dogs usually involves giving them fluids intravenously to flush the salt out of their system. The amount of time this takes can vary, depending on how much salt they ate and how quickly they receive treatment.
In some cases, your dog may need to stay in the hospital for a few days to be monitored. But with quick treatment, most dogs make a full recovery.
Long-Term Risks of Feeding Your Dog Salt
Can dogs eat salt in snacks? While salty treats are unlikely to poison your dog, they pose a number of long-term risks.
Excessive salt in your pet’s diet can cause health problems like high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. It can also lead to dehydration, which can be especially dangerous for puppies and elderly dogs. If your dog is chronically dehydrated, they may suffer from kidney or bladder stones.
To be on the safe side, it’s best to avoid feeding your dog any salty foods like pretzels, chips, or leftovers from dinner. If you’re looking for a healthy treat, try freeze-dried liver or salmon treats. These are not only delicious, but they’re also packed with healthy nutrients that your dog needs.
Is It Safe for Dogs to Lick Rock Salt?
If you use rock salt to de-ice your driveway, sidewalk, or steps, there’s no need to worry about your dog licking it. Rock salt is a form of sodium chloride and is safe for dogs in moderation. Most dogs won’t like it enough to ingest too much, but if your pet has a history of eating questionable things, keep an eye on them just in case.
Avoid Giving Your Dog Salt – They’re Already Getting Enough
While it’s safe for dogs to eat salt in moderation, that doesn’t mean you should give them salty snacks. Most commercial dog food already contains the recommended amount of sodium, so there’s no need to add more. If your pet happens to eat excess salt in one sitting, they can get salt poisoning, which requires immediate care.
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