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 a crisp 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:
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:
- Savoury biscuits
- Processed meat, including sausages and burgers
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, you tell us about their health conditions and can request a low-salt diet – we’ll do the rest. Their kibble recipe will be uniquely tailored to support all their nutritional needs.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.