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Is Salt Bad for Your Dog | How Much is Unhealthy

picture of salt in a wooden spoon

Most people know that salt isn’t the best for us humans, and it can lead to raised levels of sodium, which in turn can cause severe cardiovascular problems in the long term. But does it have the same effect on our canine companions? 

If this is a dilemma you’ve had for a while, it’s a good thing you’re reading this post. In it, we’ll talk about the types of salt that are harmful to dogs, whether it has any benefits and downsides, if there is any amount that is accepted, and the symptoms of salt poisoning in dogs.

Does salt have any health benefits?

Salt helps the cells in any body’s tissues to function properly. It plays an essential part in regulating fluid balance, it assists the nerve system by promoting signal transmission, and it also creates a balance between acidic and basic substances in the body. Salt can also improve digestion, and sodium chloride gives a little help to a dog’s stomach to produce gastric acid.

Every mammal can benefit from a little salt in their diet, whether dogs or humans. But that amount has to be really small. Adding extra salt to a dog’s diet can lead to a variety of problems. 

Why is salt bad for dogs?

Too much salt can damage the kidneys, cause dehydration, and lead to long-term issues (such as cardiovascular health problems). 

Excess salt also robs the muscles of water. If you’ve ever been dehydrated yourself, you probably know that you had low energy, and some of your body parts might have twitched or jerked. This can happen to a dog that’s eaten too much salt, engaged in too much exercise without replenishing the water he’s lost or one that was unable to drink water for a period of time. 

Dehydration can lead to neurological damage, and in some severe cases, it can even cause death. We’ll discuss the symptoms of salt poisoning in a section below. 

Which human foods contain too much salt for dogs?

Pretty much any savory human food is too salty for dogs, and the reason for that is that most dogs’ body weight is lower than ours. If you have a Pomeranian and you feed him a bowl of chips or burgers that you have seasoned, he’s going to get way too much salt. 

Here are some of the saltiest human foods that a dog should never have access to because you can’t control the amount of salt that he’s getting:

  • Chips
  • Cheese
  • Crisps
  • Savory biscuits
  • Burgers and sausages
  • Beef jerky

What health problems call for a low-salt diet?

If your dog has a history of kidney, liver, or heart problems, you should aim for feeding him a low-sodium diet. Keep in mind that there are other sources where your canine friend can get salt, not just the food that you give him. 

What type of salt is bad for dogs?

You might be confused as to whether other types of salt are just as dangerous as the regular variety that you have on your kitchen table. 

  • Is rock salt bad for dogs?
  • Is garlic salt bad for dogs?
  • Is sea salt bad for dogs?
  • Is Epsom salt bad for dogs?
  • Is snow salt bad for dogs?

The answer to all of these questions is YES, especially if you have a geriatric dog, as this age category is more exposed to developing the health problems that we have mentioned. Plus, even a young and healthy dog can develop these if he is fed a salt-heavy diet every day. 

Ingesting Epsom salts can have a variety of other negative outcomes. People tend to think that it’s good for constipation, but if the dog ingests more than necessary, it can cause severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and a much-needed visit to the vet clinic. Also, excessive consumption of Epsom salt can lead to metabolic alkalosis (an increase in the pH level), which can be a very serious health problem. 

The only way Epsom salt can be used for dogs is on his body, not on the inside. An Epsom salt bath for dogs is a great idea for cracked paws or any dry and itchy area on their body. Epsom soaks are also great for geriatric dogs as they alleviate some of their arthritic pain. 

Is sidewalk salt bad for dogs? Well, yes, that one, too. It can irritate your dog’s paws to the point that he gets used to licking them all the time. Needless to say, ingesting road salt on winter roads can pose a health risk, particularly for older dogs that might have problems with their liver, kidneys, or heart. 

You should wash your dog’s paws each time you come back home after a walk. Keep a bucket of water and a towel right next to the door and try to teach your canine friend to wait until you get rid of the salt from his paws. 

Salt and commercial dog food

Low-quality dog food can contain higher levels of sodium. If you want to be sure that your canine companion isn’t getting too much salt, you should probably invest in a high-quality alternative, which contains as little salt as possible, but also zero additives, artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors. 

Dogs that have liver, heart, and kidney conditions should always be kept on an extra-low salt diet. Talk to your vet if you don’t know what brand or variety to pick. 

What about leftovers? Feeding your dog a homemade diet is a great idea, actually, so you can cook it at home, in which case it’s far healthier than the commercial option. You know what you put in it, so that’s a great advantage. You can use leftovers, but if you want to do that, just make sure you add no condiments or seasonings before feeding them to your dog. As bland as the food might come out, this makes it perfectly safe for your furry buddy, and you can always season your food on your plate. 

Signs of salt poisoning

If your dog has had too much salt, you might notice some of the symptoms noted below. Take your dog to the vet right away if you have any suspicion that your canine friend has had access and eaten salty food, especially a lot of it. 

In general, anything more than 1.5 grams of salt per pound of body weight can be a potentially lethal dose. Try to avoid leaving saltshakers or salty snacks within your dog’s reach, keep the human treats just for yourself and your family, and teach your dog to enjoy dog treats. Talk to anyone who might come over so that they do not succumb to your dog’s charm and begging. 

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