Dog food myth busters – is salt bad for dogs?

Salt, or sodium chloride, is a core ingredient in nutrition: essentially it keeps cells working properly (electrolyte balance). It’s a natural preservative and has been for thousands of years – thanks to being very good at drying food out and preventing spoilage. Salt is also super tasty, as any one who loves crisps knows, and we add it to our food as a natural flavour enhancer. All this means it goes in our dog’s food, too. But what does salt mean for dog health? Is salt bad for dogs?

Our Head Vet Sean often gets asked if it’s something we need to be wary of in dogs’ diets. So we decided to take a look.

Salt: the good news

Dogs need salt for their cells to function and a healthy amount of it is between 0.25g – 1.5g per 100g of food. At these levels, salt isn’t bad for dogs and helps maintain cellular functions like fluid balance, acid-base balance and nerve signal transmission. 

Your dog also needs the ‘chloride’ in sodium chloride to produce the stomach’s hydrochloric acid, which helps with their digestion. So far, all good.

Can dogs eat too much salt?

Salt is going to be bad for dogs if they eat too much of it by accident (rock salt left on a table for example) or if there’s too much salt in their dog food. If this happens they’ll combat it by drinking more water. 

Too much salt causes problems including:

  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea. 

Salt poisoning (hypernatremia) is life threatening and needs emergency veterinary assistance. As cells start to release water to even out the levels of salt in your dog’s blood, your dog may become stiff and lethargic, and may start convulsing. 

Which foods are too salty for dogs?

Unfortunately, salt is just as delicious to dogs, as it is to us. That pretzel? Amazing. Chips? Yes please.

If you want to make sure your dog gets a healthy amount of salt in their diet, there are some foods which are definitely off-limits, and the ones that make our ‘too high in salt for dogs list’ include:

  • Crisps
  • Savoury biscuits
  • Processed meat, including sausages and burgers
  • Chips
  • Cheese 

Related blog: can my dog eat human snacks?

Should I give my dog a low salt diet?

Dogs with certain health conditions – including kidney, liver and heart diseases – require a low sodium diet. 

But salt isn’t bad for all dogs, it’s about moderation – just like us humans. The magic number for dogs (we popped it in above, too) is between 0.25g/100g and 1.5g/100g. 

Manage this essential part of a healthy diet by always reading the label – and avoid giving your dog salty foods like crisps and savoury biscuits. 

Always make sure there’s plenty of fresh drinking water available, and if your dog is part of a family home, they have been known to eat Play-Doh, too (as well as blocks of salt off the table!). 

How tailored food helps

Tailored dog food targets the benefits you want to see in your dog. With specific ingredients that support your dog’s health, it’s easier to look after their diets.

When you sign up, tell us about your dog and we’ll create a tailor-made kibble blend with all the nutrients they need in one bowl. We’ll create a total feeding plan for your pup, meaning you’ll get a total nutritional picture on how much they should eat each day, including kibble, wet food and treats – it even includes human food too.

Plus, with a total feeding plan, you’ll get a total nutritional picture on what to feed your dog. Including kibble, wet food, how many treats a day – it even includes human food, too. 

If your dog needs low salt dog food, or if you have any more questions about how much salt is healthy for dogs, get in touch. Our veterinary and nutritionist team is here to help – send us an email at

39 thoughts on “Dog food myth busters – is salt bad for dogs?”

  1. Thank you for messaging but Pippa pastaway January she had lung cancer I have a cocker spaniel now 9mths old at the moment he is on grain free working dog wet noses 55% chicken sweet potato and herbs no artificial colour or preservatives hypoallergenic but he seemed to be getting a lot of wind can you provide something better for his digestion

  2. To w meat and vegetable diet I would recommend adding 1/3 of meal be dry kibbles. This provides many of the vitamins and minerals dogs require. And help keep s dog’s teeth and gums clean.

    one third quality kibbles to dogs

    • Integrating one third quality dry kibbles into a meat and vegetable diet for dogs is indeed a balanced approach, as it not only provides essential vitamins and minerals but also promotes dental health. By including dry kibbles, you’re ensuring a comprehensive diet that supports overall well-being, including clean teeth and gums, which is vital for a dog’s health.

  3. I’m not sure why you included proper salt level expressed as a fraction and very unclear about the serving or daily intake. I need to know what is the healthy daily intake of salt for my Maltese. Thank you.

      • It’s pretty simple James, it’s from 1/4 of a gram of salt or .25 per 100 grams of dog food on the low end or up to 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams of dog food on the high end. They’re likely dependent upon the size of the dog. I have a mini Yorkie so I’m definitely on the quarter of a gram. I hope this helps buddy, our little(and sometimes really, really big) furballs, lol no pun intended, mean as much to many of us as other humans do. I’m always researching & reading everything possible as I was never blessed with any human children but I’ve found this is pretty much across the board as far as salt intake. My yorkie is always licking my hands & feets & I wasn’t sure if it was due to lack of salt but have found it’s most likely due to just plain boredom or separation anxiety as I’m gone 8-9 hrs every day but Sunday. Anyway I’m rambling on so good luck with you & yours pal!!

  4. my 16# one year old wire fox terrier loves to lick peoples legs. Does she need more salt in her diet?
    Is this related in any way to her itching herself?

  5. This says 100g of salt. I assume that it’s daily. It should be 100mg for a 33lb. dog daily. 100g of salt for anything is massive amount.

    • Like protein and fat, salt is an essential nutrient for dogs as well as humans. I can only assume the article was meant to convey .5 grams to 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams of food intake.

      Avoid giving dogs carbohydrates. At most 5% of dietary intake can be carbs. Dogs can get diabetes just like us. The only way to avoid diabetes is to avoid carbs. I mention this because a low carb diet also induces a loss of salt. This is due to the kidneys not retaining salt as they do in the presence of hyperinsulinemia. Which is the norml state for humans who eat a high carbs diet. High carb meaning greater than 30% of their diet.

      But dogs are dogs, not humans. The best thing to do is not to share our diets with them, and find out what they actually need. I’ve been considering getting a salt lick and putting it next to his water dish. Most animals control their salt intake on their own, and salt licks seem to do very well.

      Now the my dogs salt intake has been increased, he has had less issues with cramps. He often would complain about going up and down stairs, getting up out of bed, sometimes limping around all day. I haven’t done or seen any science on this for dogs, but they are mammals, and we mammals need salt to keep our bodies healthy.

      By the way, its very difficult to get too much salt. There is a feed back loop in our bodies that at first makes us crave it, then as sodium levels rise, the taste of salt per milligram increases rapidly. When we are getting enough, salt begins to taste ‘too salty’. So if you think you need more salt, you probably do.

      I personally eat/drink about two tablspoons of salt a day. And when I had my bloodwork done last, it was perfectly in the center of NORMAL. Salt is, the salt of life.

    • I think it actually says 0.25g/100g and 1.5g/100g which I read as 0.25g of salt per 100g of food which is a very small percentage really – for my dog who gets 120g of dry food per day – I reckon my dog is getting 0.3g salt from his kibble
      If not I’m sure someone from the team will correct it

  6. Hi can you advise on how much salt intake is required by my fog. He is a mongrel on a vegetarian diet, 5 yrs old. We had kept him on a salt free diet and his food I’d prepared daily at home. We give him dog treats and dog biscuit as snacks and treat. We do add cheese in his diet. Should we add salt in the food we prepare for him daily

    • Please do the consult. Also tell your vet you have put your dog on a vegetarian diet. I read an article a few years back written by a vet who stated that dogs are meat eaters and cannot survive on a vegetarian diet. Please do not try to be a dog nutritionist; people, dog, cats, and other animals have different needs from each other. I think you may be putting your lovely mutt at high risk for medical problems. Please, please consult a vet.

      • All my dogs have been vegan for many years and are very fit and healthy. This includes an Irish Wolfhound who is way fitter than his meat eating counterparts.

  7. The average human is 180lb and requires a daily amount of 2000mg of salt a day (or at least should otherwise the human will take it from the bone).

    Dogs on average weigh 30lbs, the ones you have to hold with both hands and cannot hold with 1 hand alone, and if the dog cannot be held because he is too big, he is usually over 30lb.
    Notice how dogs get smaller and smaller from breeding? People think it’s genetics but it could just be because of malnutrition, their bones are eaten away each generation due to lack of salt and their genes adapt because of the lack of salt.
    Picture a big dog, a husky, you would get the average picture from the movies that these owners usually give them a big steak, but why do you never picture giving a huge steak to a little dog (at least usually, some owners are aware).
    a widespread misinformation collective farm that karens spread to never give your dog salt and sometimes these people can look like chads dont let their high protein diet full you, everyone is guilty of it.

    • 2000g salt per day!? You’d be dead! Think you need to revise your info. Recommended
      max amount of salt per day for an adult human is 5g = 1 teaspoon!!!

      • Hmmm….He said 2000 MG. You said 2000 G. I’m no expert. I’m old!! Back in the day we didn’t study mg and g measurements but isn’t that a major difference in amounts???

    • Hi Priyanka,

      We wouldn’t recommend adding additional salt to your dog’s diet, unless your vet has suggested you do so. It might be a good idea to speak to your vet for some advice – or send us an email at and we’ll be able to give you some more advice there.


  8. There’s no way I could know this, as a first-time pet owner website like yours really helped to gain knowledge about the topic that a person like me isn’t aware of. Thank you for sharing this. Keep Posting!

  9. My dog is a terrier mix and he had most of his teeth pulled can’t eat his kibbles
    dog food so I mixed his kibbles with about 1/2 can of veggie soup. took him to the vet
    for his checkup and the vet told me not to mix his kibbles with soup , say’s there is to much salt in the soup. i was trying to soften his kibbles while his gums was healing
    so he could eat.

    • Hi Vern, we hope your dog is doing well and recovering from his dental work. To help soften his kibbles, we’d suggest mixing warm water with his food which will not only make it softer on his gums but help to release the tasty aromas too!


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