Is salt bad for dogs?

Posted by Dr. Jessica on

Is salt bad for dogs?

Sharing isn’t always caring when it comes to giving human food to a dog. While there certainly are human foods that dogs can enjoy as treats, too much of anything can be problematic. There are also, of course, foods that are toxic. But what about salt? If you’ve ever wondered, “Is salt bad for my dog?”, the answer is...yes and no. 

Allow us to explain. 

Is salt bad for my dog? 

Like every other living organism, dogs need salt (sodium chloride) to survive. The key element of salt (sodium) helps mammals maintain vital functions and is essential in heart, kidney, and nervous system health along with fluid balance and oxygen delivery within the body! 

If a dog ingests too much salt, however, a number of pet health problems can arise. Including:

  • Diarrhea 
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Excess thirst or urination
  • Seizures
  • Incoordination (also known as ataxia, abnormal movements occuring in the legs, the head, and/or torso)
  • Muscle tremors 
  • Lethargy

Salt poisoning, whether it comes from eating too much salt or even ingesting too much saltwater, can be deadly. 

Fortunately, salt poisoning is entirely preventable. As with anything in a dog’s life, healthy balance is key. Avoid highly processed foods or treats naturally high in sodium, like cured meats. Make sure to give dogs frequent breaks when swimming in saltwater. These breaks will allow them to both rest and urinate any of the excess salt they’ve ingested before health complications develop. Also, any salt used for snowmelt purposes should be kept out of reach of your dog. 

If a dog seems lethargic after a beach day, has diarrhea or was vomiting don't panic. Balancing their diet with unsalted food for the next day or two and encouraging water drinking may help. If a dog exhibits any of the above symptoms for an extended period of time a veterinarian should be contacted or consulted immediately.

Want to learn more about salt and its effects on your dog? Fuzzy members can always contact Fuzzy via in-app 24/7 Live Vet Chat to ask pet health, digestion, or nutritional questions.

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