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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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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

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Labrador Retriever

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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7 found helpful

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Our dog got into holiday candy the other day And we did the salt method by throwing salt down her throat to have her throw up. It worked and we thought everything was fine. A couple Days later on Christmas we figured we’d treat her with some Mcdonald’s nuggets and fries since she rarely ever gets human food. She is about 86 lbs and ate about 8 nuggets and maybe a medium McDonald’s fry worth. Later on she was vomiting a lot and going to #2 5 times throughout the night and morning. It’s been a whole day She hasn’t ate and has continued to throw up water she drinks. Any help on what to do

Dec. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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7 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear she is unwell. There are several potential causes for vomiting and reduced appetite including kidney disease, liver disease, toxin ingestion pancrdatitis etc. Her symptoms may or may not have to do with the recent things she has eaten. Given what you have said, she does need to see a vet as if she isn't able to hold water down she is at risk of dehydration. Hopefully she is feeling better very soon.

Dec. 27, 2020

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Yorkipoo

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5 Years

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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He was convulsing and his eyes rolled back in his head for 10 minutes this lasted

Dec. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. This sounds like a seizure. It would be best for you to take your dog to the vet. There are many things that can this. I hope that you dog starts to feel better soon.

Dec. 2, 2020

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Dutch Shepherd

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Three Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Diarrhea

My dog was swimming at the ocean today for about 30 minutes. She was biting at the waves and swimming. When she was done she immediately starting have diarrhea. The diarrhea stopped after about 1 hour. I am worried that she may have salt water poisoning

Oct. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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4 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. I'm sorry to hear you are concerned about your dog. Signs of salt water poisoning can occur when dogs swim for prolonged times in the sea, especially if fetching a ball or stick (as their open mouth invites water inside). We can certainly see signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea, as well as a wobbly walk or even fits. I wouldn't hesitate to bring him to the vet where they can examine him and run some blood work to determine if further treatment is needed.

Oct. 28, 2020

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Pug

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5 months

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2 found helpful

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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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2 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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Mini doberman

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Two Years

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0 found helpful

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Vomiting

I gave my dog salami and he started throwing up. What should I do at home to get him better?

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 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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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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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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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

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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Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

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