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What is Salt Poisoning?

In most cases, if your dog consumes too much salt, he will drink water to combat the effects and no damage will be done. However, if there is no water available to your dog, or if your dog ingested an extreme amount of salt in a short time, the cells in the body will start to release water to even out the levels of salt in the blood. This causes the destruction of brain cells due to the lack of water, creating neurological symptoms like dizziness, headache, and seizures. The most often reported reasons for salt poisoning in dogs is ingestion of homemade play dough, ornaments, rock salt, or table salt. It can also be caused by a lack of fresh water, frozen water sources, or a malfunctioning automatic waterer.

Too much salt in the blood (hypernatremia) can cause the muscles to lose moisture, shrivel, and become stiff, which will create shaking and jerking. The most serious symptoms of salt poisoning are neurological. Some of those symptoms are convulsions, coma, and death. Sodium chloride causes the brain cells to dry out due to the release of water from the cells used to dilute the salt in the bloodstream. Dehydration is imminent without the opportunity to drink enough fresh water, which brings more serious effects: fast heartbeat, fainting, confusion, and difficulty breathing. If you think your dog has ingested a large amount of salt, call your veterinarian whether your dog shows any symptoms or not.

Although salt (sodium) is a natural substance that your dog’s body needs, too much can cause serious illness or even be fatal. Sodium toxicity is caused by sodium chloride, which is used to maintain the levels of water in the body; an essential part of your dog’s metabolic system.

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Salt Poisoning Average Cost

From 68 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$5,000

Symptoms of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

There are many signs of salt poisoning in dogs, which may be neurological, gastrointestinal, or even cardiovascular. The most common signs are extreme thirst and urination, which are what usually saves your dog’s life if there is plenty of fresh water to drink. This is because the water dilutes the salt in the blood, and it is cleansed from the body in the urine. The symptoms of salt poisoning most often reported are:

  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Death
  • Extreme thirst and urination
  • Fluid buildup
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizures
  • Stomach pains
  • Tongue swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Walking like intoxicated
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Weakness
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Causes of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

A large amount of salt in your dog’s blood can cause sodium poisoning if your dog eats enough of it and has no fresh water to drink. These are some of the ways your dog can get sodium poisoning:

  • Frozen water source
  • Broken automatic waterer

Also the consumption of many items that may be found around the home can cause salt poisoning.

  • Homemade play dough or ornaments
  • Ocean water
  • Paintballs
  • Rock salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Table salt
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Diagnosis of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

A thorough physical examination will be done, which will include checking your dog’s reflexes, temperature, pulse rate, weight, height, reflexes, blood pressure, respirations, and a quick vision and hearing test. Bring any medical records you have, including your dog’s vaccination records, illness and injury information, and describe any abnormal behavior or appetite. Explain to your veterinarian what you believe your dog consumed, how much, and how long it has been since consumption. List the symptoms you have seen that brought you to the veterinarian in the first place and when they started.

The tests your veterinarian will need to perform are complete blood count, blood gases, and blood chemistry, and a urinalysis to check your dog’s sodium level. A complete cardiac diagnostic will be done as well. This will include an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure the electrical impulses in your dog’s heart, radiographs (x-rays), MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound to determine the extent of the damage to your dog’s brain, heart, and lungs.

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Treatment of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

Your dog will be admitted to the hospital for oxygen, IV fluid therapy, and electrolytes to manage dehydration. The salt level will have to be brought down gradually because a sudden change in sodium levels can cause a heart attack or cerebral edema (brain swelling). It can take up to three days to bring the levels down to an acceptable range depending on how high your dog’s sodium levels are. This is usually done with warm water enemas every few hours. If cerebral edema is already present, your dog will be given a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone or mannitol to reduce the inflammation. The veterinarian will most likely keep your dog in the hospital for about 24 hours for observation.

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Recovery of Salt Poisoning in Dogs

Your veterinarian will probably suggest a diet low in sodium, and this is important to keep the level of sodium in your dog’s blood under control. You will have to return in 30 days for a follow-up blood test to determine sodium level. If there is no sign of hypernatremia, your dog’s prognosis is good as long as there is no damage to the brain, heart, or liver.  Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and continue to take your dog for annual check-ups.

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Salt Poisoning Average Cost

From 68 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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Salt Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Pug

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5 months

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Nausea

He eat half a can of sweat peas and he is showing salt poisoning symptoms what shall i do

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is unlikely that your dog has salt poisoning from a half a can of peas, but it is likely that is upset his stomach. I'm not sure from your description how ill he may be, if he is vomiting or having diarrhea, or if he has lost his appetite. He is doing any of those things, vomiting, having diarrhea, or having a loss of appetite, then it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine him, see what might be going on, and let you know what treatments he might need. I hope that everything goes well and he feels better soon.

Sept. 26, 2020

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Old English Sheepdog

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One Year

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Na

I gave my dog a little less than ten pieces of steak from a takeout dinner last night. They were cooked in soy sauce yesterday (more than 12 hours ago). I did not realize soy sauce could be toxic to dogs and that they could get ill. This was over an hour ago. So far he’s not showing any symptoms, he went on his walk and peed and pooped like normal and now he’s resting in front of the fan. I have given him water multiple times since then. Is there anything I should do to make sure he’s okay? Or would symptoms have already shown themselves? He’s about 80lbs.

Aug. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I think, from your description, you may be fine to monitor for any signs of GI upset. I do not think that that small amount of soy sauce should cause any problems. If your dog starts vomiting, having diarrhea, has a loss of appetite, or is lethargic, then it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian. Otherwise, your dog may be fine and it would be okay to monitor for those signs over the next 24 to 48 hours. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 26, 2020

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Labrador Retriever

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Four Years

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4 found helpful

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Vomiting

My Lab and I recently moved to Hawaii. She swam in the ocean today and swallowed a lot of water while playing fetch. She had diarrhea once and threw up once. She has been drinking a lot of fresh water. I noticed she is salivating more than usual. I’m worried about salt poisoning because I have never dealt with it.

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If your dog just drank too much sea water today, she may have some GI upset but she may be fine. If you notice that she is not eating, unstable in her gait, lethargic, vomiting, are having diarrhea, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine her, see if she has an electrolyte problem or what is going on, and get her treatment. I hope she is

Aug. 3, 2020

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Yorkie

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Five Years

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1 found helpful

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None

Dog at 3/4 of a bag of small treats. Her stomach was pretty full when I got home from work. I gave her hydrogen peroxide to vomit which she did. Her stomach went down a little. She is drinking alot of water. She is acting pretty normal . Just want to ask if I should just keep an eye on her or should I take her to the vet

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If your dog just ate treats, and nothing toxic, I suspect she will be okay. Walking may help to get things moving and encourage GI motility. I do not think that she needs to go to an emergency clinic at this point from your description, and keeping an eye on her for any signs of GI upset or pain would be a good idea. I hope she is okay.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Shepherd

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Twelve Years

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Noisy Breathing

I took my dog to the beach two days ago, So he ate breakfast yesterday, he was tired most of the day and I figured it was just from being at the beach prior. He did not end up eating dinner I feel like moving at the end of the day and today he has not eaten at all, he is lethargic and seems to Be breathing a little swiftly and have a muscle pains. I wondered if it had to possibly do with and dressing salt water which he does sometimes when we were at the beach he has been drinking a lot of water today that he has not eaten anything.

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Dogs can be quite sore after exercise as they age, and beach day may have been too much for him. Given his age, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, as they can examine him, see what might be going on, and discuss medication options for him so that he feels better. I hope that he is okay.

July 30, 2020

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clover

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Bernese Mountain Dog

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19 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Vomiting , Thirsty

Hello My name is Cadence my dog is a Bernie mountain dog (a really big dog) she is about 40kg and today she had some chocolate cokes that contained a lot of salt. i do not know how much salt she had. and i did not relies that she had cokes until i sore her.

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Dexter

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Cocker Spaniel

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4 Months

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Vomiting

My puppy found a roll of quarters, as soon as I saw it I ran and grabbed salt to put down his throat (to make him throw it up) turns out after he threw up he didn’t swallow any quarters (thank god) but now doesn’t stop throwing up and won’t drink water, he has thrown up more than 10 times, I really want to avoid a vet bill, and don’t know what to do

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Laila

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Maltipoo

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Looks Like She Needs To Vomit.

I was eating salami earlier that were cut up in tiny pieces. Like bite sized almost what you would give a toddler so they wont choke. I did not know it was toxic to dogs so I gave my dog 3 little bite sized pieces. I also read black olives were safe for dogs so I gave her some cut up black olives in her food. Not alot but maybe atleast 10 little pieces mixed in with dog food. Did more research and read canned black olives are not good because of sodium. Would of been nice if they were more specific on that. She keeps licking her lips like she needs to throw up but hasn't yet... should I be worried????? I'm freaking out... she is about 20 lbs

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candy

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Pit bull

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Tired
Thirsty
Sleepy

I accidentally split a bag of tortilla chips from chipotle near my pit candy and she ate about 4 or 5 of them before i could stop her. shes seems tired and thirsty but is still eating should i be extremely worried as i am ,she ate a small amount of chips i need advice don't want nothing to happen to her shes had no vomiting or diarrhea.

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Keagan

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Labrabull

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Weakness
Tired

Keagan had gotten into a bag of tostitos yesterday and ate about half of the bag. Today he is very lethargic, very sleepy and had some water. He has urinated and pooped but is going no where near his food. He’s having trouble going up the stairs. He did have the shivers but now they are gone. I’m wondering if it’s best to let him sleep it off or if we should take him in to the vet?

Salt Poisoning Average Cost

From 68 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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